Fun with Subplots

Last week I talked about all the NaNoWriMo prep activities I’ve been working through. This week is the final stretch, and with only 6 days of planning left, I will be filling in the finer details of the outline, character sheets, and other research items. It can be tedious work for those of us who just want to write already, but sometimes the fun of planning can sneak up and surprise you.

One of my main characters, Estella Broussard (a Deschanel cousin) comes from parents who are cultural anthropologists specializing in occult studies. When their children were little, they opened a museum in the French Quarter that touted itself as a headquarters for occult artifacts (which is a pretty lofty definition in New Orleans), but they learned the hard way that museum ownership was not all it was cut out to be…they were hardly breaking even with expenses, and obtaining rare items was putting them in the red.

So they do what any self-respecting scholar with a passion for their subject would do: they completely sell out. They turn the museum into a store that sells voodoo charms, altars, and spell books, and offer glamorous services such as fortune telling, curse removal, and curse placement. They also run voodoo and cemetery tours in the Quarter and give “magic seminars.” The wife, Pandora, is paid generously for her public appearances on local television, and the father, Jasper, is an author and self-proclaimed expert. For every genuine artifact they display in their store, there are ten forged ones. While once known as being passionate, local scholars of the occult, they become known for amassing wealth and greed by making a mockery of that which they love most.


The idea came to me partially due to healthy skepticism, but also curiosity, at some of the “experts” who appear on shows such as Ancient Aliens, or the various shows about psychics and paranormal. I mean, they’re obviously frauds…but were they always? Was money always the motivation for these ridiculous endeavors, or was there a time when they absolutely believed? Do people start off with good intentions, realize there’s no money to be had, and move down this path instead?

Anyway, this subplot idea snowballed into some really fun naming exercises…I started thinking about great names for their establishment, and some of the hilarious titles that Jasper Broussard might have published. The possibilities are endless, but I’ll include a few here:

Possible Store Names:

  • The Voodoo That You Do
  • Charmed, I’m Sure
  • The Soothsayer’s Coffer

Publishings of Jasper Broussard:

  • One Man’s Conversations With Marie Laveau
  • Voodoo, Vodou, or Hoodoo: You Decide
  • The Upside of Slavery: the Advent of Voodoo in the Antebellum South


You can see why I might be enjoying this.


10 thoughts on “Fun with Subplots

  1. I’m still working on my outline and I’ve also written about 2000 words for my first draft. I’m kind of flying by the seat of my pants on this camp thing. I’m hoping to learn a lot and use it next campsite!

    1. Nothing wrong with flying by the seat of your pants! I’ve won several years doing just that 🙂

      One of my favorite NaNo tricks is to exceed my daily wordcount goal as much as possible so i give myself a few days of breathing room in case life happens. Usually I end up even finishing a few days early.

  2. Hi, Sarah, thanks for visiting my blog. I’m enjoying yours 😉 I signed up for Camp NaNoWriMo but have not done any prep. I’ve participated in the November writing, but this is my first camp so I chose to have a cabin to myself … afraid I will let people down in case writing in April is too much of a struggle. If you have had cabin mates before, I would be very interested in knowing what that is like. Cheers!

    1. I really enjoyed your was very honest and well-written, and I imagine it spoke to a lot of people…

      This is my first camp as well, because (like you) I am incredibly introverted and don’t always do well with meeting people and working in groups. But I have had so much success and fun in the November sessions, that I decided to give it a shot. I was even able to get a couple of fellow writer/bloggers in my camp, so it feels a little more cozy. From what I can see so far, it doesn’t seem so intimidating. My camp is full of people with all different goals as well…some with high WC, some low WC, and some who are “rebels” and are using the month to edit. In other words, I doubt you would let anyone down, regardless of your results 🙂

      1. Thank you for your kind comments about my post. I might rethink my lonely cabin in the woods 😉 Then again, I would love to literally have a lonely cabin in the woods to write in. Unfortunately I need complete quiet in order to work productively. My husband understands that, but our cats don’t ;(

      2. I need complete solitude as well, and unfortunately my husband DOES not understand that and thinks that its perfectly acceptable to hold entire conversations with me when I write 😉 I would love to do it Thoreau-style myself…maybe one day I’ll have a real writing cabin.

      3. Oh, dear, maybe he needs a hobby or another distraction. My husband took up stargazing a few years ago. Even though he doesn’t go out stargazing much (he needs moonless nights and clear skies and that isn’t often where we live), he’s keeping a meticulous journal which keeps him busy and out of my way when I’m writing. Well, good luck with Camp NaNoWriMo!

      4. Oh, he has hobbies, he just conveniently forgets about them whenever I’m writing. It’s like the cat who ignores you until its clear you’re indisposed!

        Good luck to you! Hopefully this time next month we can both be reveling in our victory 🙂

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