| |

Master Your Plotlines


One Story, Many Plotlines 

Adding depth to your story makes it more interesting to your readers. It’s easy when you are first starting out to focus on your mystery’s main plot – who did it, the sleuth’s discovery quest, and the final reveal. 

Add dimension to your story with subplots that create mini-stories within your mystery. Without the added breadth, your story can feel flat. Or it may seem bloated because you spend too much time adding to the elements of your main storyline. 

Writers Helping Writers suggests you have a minimum of three plotlines in your story. These plotlines run adjacent to the primary storyline. Before you feel overwhelmed and feel as though you need to write three different novels, think of the ways you can augment the main story through supporting characters and your protagonist.

Plotline Ideas

If you are wondering how to expand on your central story. Here are some ideas to get your creative juices going. Your first plotline is the sleuth’s outer journey – the mystery. Then starting with your protagonist think about some of these storyline ideas.

The Sleuth’s Inner Journey

Something in your sleuth’s background leads them to an ongoing struggle. It could be living up to a parent’s reputation. Or, a privileged life makes them uncomfortable with the poor. Or an addiction. Use this with caution. It’s a struggle that is overused. It could be something as simple as their physical size. A small man who feels threatened in situations where others wouldn’t even notice.

Use your imagination. If you are planning on writing a series, get a good grasp of your sleuth’s inner demon so you can use it again in a different way in other stories. 


The first relationship that springs to mind is a love interest. But you don’t need to limit yourself. Any relationship you sleuth has can serve as a subplot. It may be a friendship, a sibling, parent, mentor, or a rival/opponent. 

The relationship fits somewhere between the outer and inner journey, so it gives dimension to your character.


At first glance, the world around seems like setting and not a storyline source. Depending on your story, societal unrest or discord can play a role in deepening your story, especially when those changes impact your sleuth. This plotline may not feel as personal as the others, but it has the power to increase the drama in your story.

The Power Influencer

This is a character that has influence over your sleuth. This character has their own goals, frustrations, likes, and dislikes. The reader sees this character through the eyes of the sleuth. The influencer can be either an ally or an opponent. 

Expand Your Story With Other Stories

Subplots add life to your story. They deepen the reader’s connection with your sleuth by expanding the ways they connect with your protagonist. Subplots offer ways to add conflict and heighten tension, making your story more engaging. 

In the real world, we don’t have just one problem to solve. Think about your day. Multiple plotlines humanize your story. As your protagonist interacts with characters in the subplots, you build an emotional connection with your reader.

Multiple plotlines provide you with many ways to reveal your characters. Have fun creating your stories within the story.

Photo by Ryoji Iwata on Unsplash

Similar Posts