Drafting Story Maps

Drafting Story Maps


OR "How Writing A Novel Is Like Taking A Road Trip" 

When you take a road trip somewhere new, you use gps, a map, or some kind of written directions to get to your destination.

That’s what a novel outline is: a story map. 

It provides me with an overview of my trip, things like:

How far between fueling stations (the daily word count, scenes or other target)

Who my traveling companions are (characters)

Where the road gets rough (encounters with the antagonist)

Now sometimes, the gps signal drops off or your map isn’t up to date.

Or maybe you see a little coffee shop that you gotta stop and check out.

When faced with those situations, you have to wing it.

The reason that’s possible is that you have your gps and/or map to get you from Point A to Point B.

Navigating the surface streets or meandering down Antique Alley is possible – even fun and exciting – because at any point, you can use whatever mapping device you have at hand to hop back on the highway and resume your intended route.

The same thing applies to a story map.

I can add a support character or skip a weak subplot because I am so familiar with where I’m going and how to get there that I can acclimate and enhance on the fly.


Before I write a novel I make sure:

I have my story map (loose plot outline and character sketches)

there’s cash in my wallet (story craft knowledge)

and the story car is fueled and ready to go (passion and enthusiasm for my story and characters)


What is essential to your story map?