One of the best examples of smoke and mirrors is the TV show
Castle. Rick Castle is a pain in the
neck to beautiful homicide Detective Kate Beckett. He lives with his
very smart daughter and his actress mother who lost her fortune to a thieving
At the office, someone is always
getting killed, hence the homicide part. Whatever the motive for the murder,
you can bet the theme is mirrored at home with either the mother or the
daughter. In other words, Rick learns a lesson at work he later applies to a
situation at home. It’s all so neat and easy. Warning: this is not for the faint of spirit. The Castle stories
are so well written they have you wondering, how in the world can they possibly
tie these two situations together? You know they will, and the way they do is
half of the show. Rick comes home and magically fixes everything. Unlike real
life when the dad comes home and adds to the stress and confusion (Do not tell
my husband I wrote that. It’ll only add to the stress and confusion around
One episode that comes to mind was when
the daughter, Alexis, was uninvited to her best friend’s party, but Alexis’s
boyfriend wasn’t. The murder, as it turned out, was due to misplaced jealousy.
The reason Alexis was disinvited to
the party was because her best friend
was jealous of all the time Alexis spent with her boyfriend.
The trick is to have your subplot
mirror your main plot. For you pantsers…good luck. I know you can do it, but as
a plotter, I just don’t know how. For you plotters this is where all those
notecards, sticky notes and random scraps of paper come in handy.
It’s a step-by-step process.
what the main theme of the book is. This is not always easy. Writers have a
tendency to write the same theme in each book.
figure our two different ways to show the same thing.
the stronger idea for the main plot and less dynamic for the subplot.
each plot with the appropriate characters.
the hard part. You have to come up with a unique way to tie the two plots
together in the end. This usually happens after the black moment.
It all looks so easy. Just follow the
bouncing ball from step one through step five and you’re set. Ah, if writing
were only that easy.
You all know how things change in a
story. I hate when I’m writing along and a brilliant idea comes to me. If I
only change this one thing, the whole story will be so much better…Pulitzer
better. The problem with my bright ideas is they’re never come in a capsule. I
can’t just plop them in and the rest of the story flows along nicely. Nope. I
end up having to go back to the beginning and add my clever bits in flashes.
This has a tendency to screw with my
well thought out plot and of course, the subplot. With my new idea, I bust out
the note cards and filter in the changes. If I don’t, I’ll run the risk of my
flash of genius losing its touch on the rest of the story and thus, and the
dramatic punch will never happen.
Where does the smoke come in, you ask?
That’s the haze forming around my head as I burn brain cells trying to figure
out how the story will come together in the end.
Do you mirror your themes? If so, how
do you do it?