3 Tips To Brainstorming A Subplot – Mommy Mayhem Hits The Page

Photo by lusi

Photo by lusi

At the end of the day have you ever just flopped down on the couch and stared at the chaos around you? Just the other day that was me.

Packing four lunches, picking up kids from school, five doctor appointments, supper, homework, laundry, dishes, and oh where oh where did I leave my sense of orientation along the way?

So, at the end of the day there I sat. Kids in bed, house akimbo, feet aching, asking myself how in the world I would be able to write tonight. It was the stage of the game to add in a subplot and I just didn’t know if I could put anything other than drivel on the page.

Then the basket of laundry on the couch, the broom in the corner, and my feet, yes my feet, started me thinking about how to brainstorm subplot. The room was the main plot, it told the story of a non Martha Stewart, but lived in look. The subplot was found in the things along the edges that supported the main room.

Silly way to think of it, eh?

But that picture is something that I truly needed to see when I first starting writing subplots.

Let’s set the stage: The main plot is a woman who is trying to keep her house clean and she is somewhat successful.


1. Brainstorm a list of story elements around the edges of your main plot that could help feed into the plot. The subplot is connected to the plot, not it’s own parallel story. I learned this very important tip from Susan May Warren.

At the end of the book, the subplot must flow into the story, not be a story of its own. List everything you see on the edges of the story.

2. Brainstorm a list of the physical elements involved with the perimeter’s objects or people. For example, if in step one I listed a broom as part of the edges, I might now attach a person to it, or emotions. What if the person who sweeps is my son and he tries to avoid it at all costs? That could build into the subplot.

3. Brainstorm a list of how the physical elements and story elements can feed back into your story. If my son sweeps the floor, but hates to, then I can create a subplot that shows him fighting his own battle with cleaning. The main plot may be the Mom trying to accomplish everything. The subplot could be the son who fights sweeping and makes her life more difficult, but in the end he realizes the benefits of sweeping and decides for himself that he wants to help.

This is an oversimplification of subplot, but you get the idea. Brainstorming around the edges of your hero/heroine’s life will help you come up with a variety of choices that could feed back into the subplot.

What is your favorite subplot of all time?


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.

2 thoughts on “3 Tips To Brainstorming A Subplot – Mommy Mayhem Hits The Page

  1. JaniceG says:

    Would the story of John the Baptist be considered a subplot for the story of Jesus?

  2. I can’t think of a particular subplot, but a book that made a huge impression on me as a teenager was Exodus by Leon Uris. It had quite a few subplots, but all tied to the main plot of Israel becoming a state.

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