How to add Subplots to Your Mystery Story


Plotting a mystery story seems easy for most writers. Decide who the criminal, victim, and prosecutor are. Give the killer a plan to commit his crime and the victim a purpose to die. Piece of cake, right?


A story with only one plotline would be a rather boring tale. Mystery stories should be multi-faceted, with one important and numerous minor plotlines to keep the reader entertained and wanting to know more. Subplots add taste to a mystery tale. They can come from many places in your story. Here are a few of those places you can find your subplots.

Back Story

Each cast in your novel should have some sort of back story, even if it is only a very trivial one. These are excellent places to find a subplot for your mystery. Maybe your agent was arrested as a child for doubt of murder. Or your villain has a deep love of kitties. You can use the back story to reveal mysteries, creeds, and wishes to make your story more suspenseful or even comical. The back story can be used to build or relieve tension.

Secondary Characters

These characters are amazing subplot vehicles. Sometimes a character comes into a tale that shocks the writer with how good they are, adding much-needed subplot material. Often times the writer needs to find the actor who will do this. Once you settle on which characters will be connected with the subplot, be sure you flesh that character out enough to make it work.


Mystery stories have many several aspects to them. One of these is objects. One idea for an object subplot is the detective gaining something that belongs to the killer, or victim, which changes the course of the research. There are many distinct kinds of things that can spark a subplot.


The last subplot we’ll consider is the theme related to one. This one wants the writer to know what the theme of their story is. Sometimes the theme is known in advance, other times it is determined during the writing. An example of a theme subplot is the murder mystery about a killing done to keep the victim from telling the killer’s secrets. The secret can be a subplot, distracting the killer, and detective, in their quest to be the victor.

Subplots can work both for and against a mystery writer. Done correctly, they will add intensity and texture to a mystery story. Done clumsily, they will take away from the writer’s plot. Plan your subplots well and you will find your readers craving for more.

Was it worth reading? Let us know.