View Full Version : Subplot assistance, please...

04-08-2007, 12:53 AM
My brain needs a boost. Hopefully someone here can jumpstart it.

By the numbers...

My MC is a private detective. He finds that he has a very large price on his head, which attracts all kinds of nasty attention from all kinds of nasty people. The only problem is that he doesn't do much detecting.

I need a subplot, a case for him to work that would mean enough to him to make him stay put, rather than skip town. Something important enough to make him risk keeping himself in danger rather than duck out.

I was thinking about something along the line of trying to find a witness to a crime in order to exonerate an innocent person, or track down something of importance to a dying man, or something along those lines. Something desperate enough to justify an otherwise illogical action (staying to fight when he's way overmatched by the people who are after him).

Does this all make sense?

Anyway, any ideas would be welcome. Thanks.

Alex Bravo
04-08-2007, 01:11 AM
Why does he have the price on his head? Is he in a relationship? What's his family life? Any Kids?

Could he be sued for something? I mean, sued for something he really didn't do, or something crazy, but if he left town, everyone would think him guilty and he'd lose the case or go to jail for contempt.

04-08-2007, 01:18 AM
He offended, over the course of a case, someone with lots of money and deep underworld connections. He's a loner - he has a sometime girlfriend, but no family or close connections.

I hadn't thought of a lawsuit. Good call there - a lawyer could be working the case while the main story is in focus.

04-08-2007, 03:11 AM
Perhaps he could be inplicated or a witness to a different crime. Then you could have the cops deliver the classic "Don't leave town" statement, then he's really stuck between the devil and the deep blue sea.

04-08-2007, 03:53 AM
Here's an idea. Your MC discobvers that he has a son or daughter and decides to stick around in hopes of tracking them down. To make it more interesting, the person or persons pursuing him discover this as well, and join the hunt. They plan to kidnap the child and hold him/her for ransom so they can lure your MC into the open for a final confrontation!

Whaddya think?

04-08-2007, 04:56 AM

Neat idea in concept, but I'm not sure I want to add a child to the mix. That'd seriously alter the path I have planned for follow-up stories.

Maybe finding the lost child of a new client...

04-08-2007, 07:01 AM
Expanding on your 'track down something of importance to a dying man':
If the MC has a strong sense of honor, perhaps a debt that needs to be repaid for something in the MC's past that this dying person did for the MC. Hence he feels obligated enough to remain and repay the debt in spite of the danger.

Sorry I can't think of anything better at the moment - supposed to be working on my taxes.... (shudder).

04-12-2007, 06:57 PM
Something more mundane? He's got a sprained ankle or the stomach flu.

Or perhaps he's been given reason to believe that someone close to him would also be a target. You could give it a twist and make it a nasty person he doesn't even like - perhaps his crabby landlady (so he has to deal with her crap as well) or maybe his xwife. They are not co-operative nor are they grateful but he is honorable, so he feels he must.

04-12-2007, 07:20 PM
Would it be too complicated to have him accused of a crime? He could be released on probation (with an ankle monitor maybe) on condition he not leave town. That way he could be battling for his life on all fronts, against the cops and the villains.
Just an idea. Good luck!

Kate Thornton
04-12-2007, 08:51 PM
An arrest would play havoc with his PI license - but I do like the mundania which could keep him around - landlady troubles, an unfinished case for which he has accepted money, or maybe he has an idea of how to square things with the underworld figure if he only has enough time to do it.

04-12-2007, 11:37 PM
I'd make it something related to the price on his head. I don't think this is a good place for an unrelated subplot.

He'll stay in town because running would not be something any sane PI would do. He'd be much more likely to find out who has the price on his head, and of having it removed, than running away from it. Leaving town wouldn't remove the price on his head, but it would put him in a place he doesn't know as well. Those who want to collect on the bounty would certainly follow, and many might well know about it wherever he goes.

This is not the kind of thing you can run away from unless you want to change your name and live in hiding for the rest of your life.

04-14-2007, 05:15 PM
Self-employed + variable income = IRS audit.

Cathy C
04-14-2007, 06:20 PM
You could also do the old "threaten the loved ones" thing. Villain is ticked off, so they kidnap someone important to the MC. Could be a friend or family member. But tracking down where the friend is while at the same time staying low key would make for a good subplot, IMO.