A Little Bitty Thing Called Appeal – 5 Tips To Make Your Plot More Appealing

When I was a third grader my small town school cafeteria served food with a ladle on a plastic tray. As a pastor’s daughter I wasn’t used to fine cuisine, but there were some menu items that were just WRONG!

My least favorite was the shredded grass mound that ran with green juice and smelled of my dad’s lawn mower.

Spinach. If you could call it that. Since, I have never found spinach to look so disgusting, but the visual image in my mind . . . not even Popeye could convince me to eat it.

Yes, it’s healthy. Served normal, it probably tastes okay. But my third grade year ruined it for me. For. Life.

That spinach lacked a little bitty thing called appeal. The thing that makes one reach for more. That’s what we want in our plot. Appeal.

5 Tips To Make Your Plot More Appealing:

1. Create some unexpected moments. Readers thrive on the unpredictable.

2. Create Unexpected richness. Add interesting setting or some information that lets your reader learn something or experience something more personally.

3. Have A Major Plot Event Every 50 pages. This is a tip that I learned from Susan May Warren at a My Book Therapy Retreat. You’ve got to avoid middle sag and major plot events can help you do this.

4. Have A Twist Or Surprise No Matter How Slight On The Alternating 25 Pages. This is something that I choose to do because I find that it keeps the reader curious and wondering what direction the story will go.

5. Escalate the conflict in your novel to keep the tension growing. Each thing is going to make it worse for your character. Be careful not to land the black moment in the middle and the small struggle at the end. You want your character’s difficulty level to climb like a mountain.

What was your least favorite food as a child? Or What appeals to you in a novel’s plot?



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.

21 thoughts on “A Little Bitty Thing Called Appeal – 5 Tips To Make Your Plot More Appealing

  1. dtopliff says:

    Great opening image & tips, though I love spinach–even canned.

  2. Pat Trainum says:

    I love spinach, too! Anyway you cook it, even wild spinach that in the South we call poke sallet.
    Great tips, just in time as I’m at that alternating 25th page.

  3. Teresa says:

    I can still remember those awful lunch room days when the smell of sauerkraut greeted us in the hall before we arrived. Yuck!

  4. Michelle Lim says:

    OH, yeah…I remember the sauerkraut too!! Shiver!

  5. Heather says:

    Great suggestions. Plotting is difficult for me sometimes.

  6. Michelle Lim says:

    A lot of people find plotting difficult. Glad the tips were helpful!

  7. Gabrielle Meyer says:

    First, for the spinach – I’m with you Michelle, no matter how much Popeye marketed the stuff I couldn’t handle the mound of green slime I was served as a child. As an adult I’ve found I love it! There are three bags of it in my fridge right now. 🙂 I mix it into salads, put it on sandwiches, toss it into soup (you don’t even taste it there!) and saute it in butter and garlic for just a few seconds to heat it up. It can be so good!

    I loved the analogy with plot and I loved all your points. I am currently reading Kiss and Tell by Susan May Warren and walking through the Book Buddy and I’m loving how she takes you deeper into the plot line. Great stuff!

  8. Excellent tips, those 25-page twists and 50-page plot events! They create rhythm to the story and keep both the reader and the writer interested. I’m approaching the 25th page of my novel, so I might just try the tip in action soon… 😉

  9. Carolyn says:

    I liked to be surprised but it has to make sense. I don’t like surprises that are so out of character they make me laugh. I see that more in movies than in books. Also, I don’t like to find out at the end of a mystery that the butler did it when the butler wasn’t even in the book until the last page. Readers like to feel smart and they can’t unless a few breadcrumbs are scattered throughout the novel..

    • Michelle Lim says:

      Very true, Carolyn! It is really important to make sure the twists and the ending are believable. Readers don’t want to feel tricked. But if we are careful to avoid that, a twist is a great thing. Breadcrumbs are always necessary, twist or not. Thanks for your thoughts, Carolyn!

  10. Miranda says:

    Hi Michelle,
    Great post; totally loved no. 3 (major plot every 50 pages) – must admit, I never thought to organize a story structure that way. If planned correctly, it could take care of no. 4 and 5.
    Thanks a lot!

  11. jeannemt says:

    Call me crazy, but I’ve always loved spinach. 🙂 What I’ve never cared for are walnuts and orange marmalade.

    Love your plot ideas. I’m working on re-writes and this will be a good guide for me. Thanks, Michelle!

  12. Michelle Lim says:

    Happy editing, Jeanne!

  13. I always learn so much from your posts. Thank you for spreading your expertise.

  14. […] Lim lists 5 tips to make your plot more appealing; Rayne Hall tells how to make your fight scenes more realistic; and Ava Jae discusses the value of […]

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