A to Z Blogging Challenge: Mapping It Out

April 15, 2016

A to Z Blogging Challenge: M

Do you map things out?

I’m not referring to making a map like a Tolkien book (and please don’t get me started on how geologically impossible Tolkien’s maps are in the first place). I mean, do you map out your writing journey?

First, do you map out your book?

Of course not, you say. I’m a pantser.

You can be a pantser (or at least a plantser) and still have a map. Depending on the genre and style you’re writing in, your book needs certain checkpoints. Some people manage to get them automatically, but I find having the little checkpoints means I don’t have to stop to think about it (which means I spend more time writing). For my current WIP, I’m using “The Hero’s Journey“. It’s can also be called the three-act character arc, although I see it as four acts. Here are the main checkpoints:

  • The starting point/ real world/ normal world: introduce things as they currently are and always have been
  • The inciting moment/ call to adventure: something happens that gives the protagonist a kick in the pants (but he’ll refuse the call)
  • Major plot point/ personal test/ baddie #1: the protagonist gets another kick in the pants. Reluctantly or not, he’ll end up heeding the call this time.
  • Switch over to the adventure/ road/ trials (starts Act 2)
  • Major plot point/¬†personal test/ baddie #2 (also called a pinch point): puts the protagonist to the test again and reminds the readers there’s a big bad world out there
  • The protagonist starts to figure things out and act on his/her own
  • Major plot point/ personal test/ baddie #3 (2nd pinch point): after the protagonist seems like he might win, the antagonist deals him a blow that shows it’s possible the protagonist won’t win. This leads to emo time for protag.
  • The protagonist, at his lowest, makes a decision to carry on
  • The climax/ showdown/ Big Baddie: battle of one sort or another
  • The resolution

Even if you’re a fly-by-night pantser, your story will almost automatically contain all of those. However, by having a map, you can look to see where you should be heading next any time you get lost. Helpful in preventing those pesky blocks.

So there’s that. But what about your writing career?

I just write for fun.

Good for you. I think you wanted the door down to the left. I mean, you can stay, but this part is more to help you plot out your six-book series.

If you have a number of books you want to write, list them all. All of them. Be honest.

Now, what are you writing first? How long does it take you to write? To edit?

I’m a bit of a hyper-focused Figment with no life and a boredom issue. I schedule 45 days to write my first draft. Then I give myself 15 days off. That gives me some squirming room.

I do a fast, run-through rewrite in about a week. Note that I edit a bit as I go.

Then I send it to betas. I give them four weeks, but I pad that with two weeks if necessary.

More edits. Lots of edits. Finish up covers and blurbs. Then formatting.

All told, because I cycle quickly, I put a book out in three or four months. However, I write short books. You may need a full year… and that’s fine. You just need to know what you need. Because, if you really want to get that ball rolling, you’ll want to start writing your next book while the first one is with the beta readers.

It gets a bit complicated on my end, so there is a spreadsheet. Mostly I just liked messing with a spreadsheet, but it does work.

How do you organize your books? Your writing plans? What has worked (or not worked) for you?

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