Today’s post is a matter of preference more than anything. I am, primarily, a short story author. By primarily, I mean 100%. I’ve never written a story longer than 40 pages. This post has to do with story mapping.

I’ve found that I can keep a 40-page story straight in my head from beginning to end. For that skill, I probably need to take this opportunity to thank the United States Navy. Nearly two decades of memorizing emergency procedures that drag several characters into a single, woven timeline appear to have a positive impact on my writing.

Keeping a book-length story seems to be a different monster.

Last week, I began working on some maps for three book ideas and I’m undecided on a good approach. The method that seems to work the best for me so far, seems to involve writing out the storyline for a single character first…and then weave the rest of the story around that single thread.

What are your opinions and best practices? What works for you?

5 Comments

  1. This is a question I always ask myself when I’m reading an amazing book. How did the author manage to keep track of all these timelines and side stories? I think this is the biggest challenge. There are so many stories floating in our heads, but can we make sense out of them? Great post. Thanks for sharing.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. To be honest, one of the people I follow on Twitter made a suggestion that seems so obvious (given my day job and military background) that I feel slightly ridiculous for not seeing it.

      He mentioned using an Excel spreadsheet.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I’m a fan of Excell spreadsheets. It kind of makes sense. I wouldn’t know where to start, though. I have an editor on my Mac that is designed for scriptwriting. It has a few tools to keep scenes and characters organized. I guess deep down it is just a disguised spreadsheet 😂💕.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. I just figured I’d build from scratch. For the main storyline, I created a four rows. One for the chapter number, one for what goes on in that chapter, and a couple for notes. I also color code each. One color for in progress first draft. A couple of colors for revisions/editing. Saved green for whenever I think I’m done with that portion.

        It works so far.

        Liked by 1 person

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