See How Easily You Can Subplot


In my WIP, I’m working on the subplot today. I know the main story pretty well by now, and I know that the Secondary Character (SC) has a parallel story, but how parallel is parallel?

Subplots Can’t Mirror the Plot Exactly

My problem is that the subplot was conceived as a mirror or parallel plot, but now, it’s too similar. And that makes this first draft boring. Nor will an exact opposite work. Rather, I think it needs to be a slantwise plot that runs at a tangent rather than parallel. (OK. Enough geometry imagery.)

In other words, I need to rethink the subplot. The theme should be on the same topic and should be similar to the main plot. That means I’m going back today to this book: Thinkertoys: A Handbook of Creative-Thinking Techniques by Michael Michalko.

Since I last talked about useful books on creativity, I’ve tried many more of the Thinkertoys techniques. One of the most helpful to me is the SCAMPER. Basically, you take an idea and brainstorm by doing one of these things.

  • S — Substitute
  • C — Combine
  • A — Adapt
  • M — Modify
  • M — Magnify
  • P — Put to Other Uses
  • E — Eliminate or minimize
  • R — Rearrange

That’s my task today. List the elements of the subplot I had planned then substitute something for each element, combine some elements, adapt it to something totally unique, modify parts of the elements, use elements in different ways, minimize each element in turn, or totally rearrange everything. By the end of the day, I hope I have a start on a better subplot.

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