I like to create and improvise on guitar, because I'm usually too lazy to learn stuff. I've been pretty noodly, though. Recently, I learned a concept that helped clarify things for me, and then I came up with an idea connected to this concept that has produced a lot of improvement in my playing. There's a lot of work to do to expand this concept, though. The secret is that your phrases will sound good if you land on a chord note.
I know the scales and the pentatonic scales. I have done chord mapping and chord maps on top of scales. The idea is simply to play behind a chord instead of on top of it. So let's start with A minor. You can create a purely A minor background of your own, or just dig one up on YouTube.
So let's consider what chord precedes A minor in the key of A minor. It's G major.
First let's map out A minor at the 5th fret. It looks like 577555 but the C at the 8th fret on the top and bottom strings is being left out. So be sure to include that as you play through the notes of A minor. You can include open E on the top string and go up to E on the 12th fret bottom string for good measure. Now we're going to take a look at G between the 3rd and 5th frets. That's 355433. The B on the 7th fret top and bottom strings is left out, so be sure to include it. You can also go to the 10th fret on the bottom string for one more chord tone within sliding/bending range.
Now turn the A minor backing track on and simply go from a note in G major to the next note up in A minor. You can play the notes or hammer on or slide if you'd like. I recommend trying to play these two note phrases intuitively and not in a straight, robotic manner. Try to make it sound good if you can. This will have you bringing non-chord notes in key back to the chord tones. It's a simple formula for tension and release.
3-5, 7-8, 10-12
That's the best I can do to depict it without official tabs. That's the bottom string to the top string depicted above.
So this gets a little constraining and boring. So you can now try to do three note phrases where you start on A minor go back to a note in G major and then back to a note in A minor. On the bottom and top strings you can do.
This just gets you started. Of course A minor and G can be found in other places.
002210 with 3 on the 5th string and 5 on the bottom string. You might move this up an octave, so you have the entire preceding G chord.
8 7 7 9 10 8 (shaped like a D minor) with 10 on the 4th string.
Of course the obvious opposite of this is playing ahead of the chord. Unfortunately, this leads you to a B diminished, and a diminished chord is not at all finger friendly.
789767 requires too many fingers, but you can play through the notes. You also have 10 on the top and bottom strings. You might also play around with what I call the Z pattern.
Yes, that entirely skips the B string. We're just trying to learn where the notes are for now. Sometimes I pluck out a 7xx767 to do a top string bass note diminished chord. So now take these notes and bring them back to the A minor.
Going to nothing but a preceding or following note gets a little lame. So now you can start practicing starting on any particular non-chord tone in G major or B diminished, and move to the various tones in A minor, especially the closer ones. You can also expand by doing 3 note strings from a chord tone to a non-chord tone to a chord tone such 5-7-8 and 8-7-5 on the bottom or top strings.
Not only can you find A minor and the preceding and following chords elsewhere, you can also begin to work with two chords such as a i and iv chord. The iv in A minor is a D minor. It is preceded by a C major and followed by a simple E minor. In this case the following chord isn't a terrible diminished chord but an exact mirror of your target D minor moved up a whole step. That sure makes life a lot easier. Of course you can obviously work on this idea with the major key and other modes and chords in other positions.
I have thought of an alternative to the diminished chord, and that is the preceding 7 chord. The preceding 7 chord of a basic triad contains the 4 in-key tones that are outside of your chord. Actually, the preceding tone such as G for A minor is the 7th of A minor. I have found that a 7 can pass as a chord tone when dealing with basic triads. I think it's based on the fact that if you replace any basic triad with its in-key 7 chord, it'll work. It might not sound like you intend, but it doesn't end up producing that out of place sound that can happen with 9s and 11s and 13s. As an alternative to the diminished chord, you might consider mapping out G7 instead. It can be found behind or ahead of any A minor you want to use. You might also consider where the G notes are 3x5xx3 and that each one has an F a whole step down at 1xx3xx1.
I still have a lot of work to do on these concepts, but I already see a huge improvement in my playing.