You Can’t Teach An Old Plot New Tricks – How To Revamp A Dying Story

You know, they always say ‘You can’t teach an old dog new tricks’, but humans aren’t any better sometimes. When we get stuck in a rut, there is no way we want to change.

Just think of all of the people who do things because, “We’ve always done it this way.” I always laugh when this is said by someone in leadership whose ship is sinking. I just want to say, “And how’s that working for you?”

Change is a good thing sometimes. If you don’t believe me, just ask your manuscript.

There are sometimes when we have an old plot. A plot that has been done over and over or is sagging more than a that tire flat around the waist.

Time to revamp that old plot, into a shiny new one. Here’s How:

*Look for predictable things in your characters, like their career and flip them to be opposite. For example, make the girl the NASCAR driver. Make the man the nurse.

*Add a comic relief character that showcases your character’s personality.

*Add conflict- external or internal.

*Use peripheral plotting to create unexpected twists. (Peripheral plot are things that come in from the outside to change the story. For example, a phone call telling the character that someone has died, needs help, or has been kidnapped.)

*Identify two of your most predictable plot points and change them to be opposite or at least very different.

*Go back and add in richer story world.

*Weave in things that make your characters more unique, more likable.

*Make your reader care. Make sure the stakes (What the character has to lose) you have picked matter to your character and your reader.

*Add a new subplot. (This only works if you are writing a Trade Length novel.)

What are some other tips you have for revamping a dying story?


About Michelle Lim

Author Michelle Lim is the Brainstorming/Huddle Coach with My Book Therapy Press and the Midwest Zone Director for American Christian Fiction Writers. Michelle’s romantic suspense is represented by Karen Solem of Spencillhill Associates and has gained contest recognition in the Frasier, the Genesis, and the Phoenix Rattler, winning the Genesis in 2015 for her genre. Michelle writes devotionals for The Christian Pulse Online Magazine and Putting On The New. Since her nonfiction book release, Idea Sparking: How To Brainstorm Conflict In Your Novel, through public speaking and online chats Michelle helps writers discover the revolutionary power of brainstorming to bring new life to their stories.

7 thoughts on “You Can’t Teach An Old Plot New Tricks – How To Revamp A Dying Story

  1. Kill someone, preferably not the hero. lol These are good tips…which I will print out and keep on hand.

  2. Michelle Lim says:

    Spoken like a true suspense author, Pat. That is one of my favorites too…what does that say about me…LOL!

  3. dtopliff says:

    Great caption & pic! I remember in 2 of my unpublished novels needing to “kill off” a parent in order for the young protagonist to be on their own and fulnerable, though young. That was a strange feeling initially, but it did accomplish something necessary in the plot line.
    You’ve also provided other good ideas here.

  4. Michelle Lim says:

    Glad you found the ideas helpful, Delores.

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