Renewing an overused Plot

by Lee

Hi, good day. I am a frustrated writer. My editor always say that my plots are too shallow, that I must have put a little twist in it. How can I write a plot that will look like new to my editor?

Answer: Without knowing exactly the problem your editor has identified, here are some possibilities.

1. The most obvious: if you are working with a traditional plot, change it somehow. Some people argue that most stories fall into one of a handful of archetypal plots. What makes them different is the variations in the way they are illustrated. Surely, you want to write something you have never seen before. Perhaps that means changing...

a) The Characters. Could your traditional story happen to unlikely people or people with very different personalities than has been done before? What if your story is set in a different culture? How will you translate the values, the attitudes, the beliefs from one culture to another?

b) Setting. Star Wars gave us a medieval romance in a high-tech setting. Harry Potter took traditional wizards and put them in the modern world. Twilight put vampires in high school. Firefly gave us a Western in space. What new setting can you put your story in?

c) Theme.
What values or issues might your story explore that were unaddressed by traditional stories?

d) Subject matter. Murder mysteries, for example, are always looking for new venues where crime can happen. For instance, instead of putting the murder into the world of upper class estates, you can set it in the world of fashion design, rodeos, architecture, island resorts, professional sports (any community will do) and make the solution hinge on an understanding of that world.

2. If your stories seem shallow, ask yourself if you have developed all four throughlines. At a minimum, in addition to the overall story, you should develop the main character's inner conflict and structure that conflict in an arc. You want your main character to face a personal crisis in addition to the external crisis. You might also develop the impact character and relationship throughlines to add other layers of conflict and emotion.

See this article as an introduction...

3. Draw upon real life and people you know. Life offers a wide range of experiences and personalities that have not been exhausted in fiction. If you take elements from life and put them into a traditional story structure, but in a way that they still feel real, you can create stories that seem more original.

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