I’m taking a two-part novel structure class with my amazing mentors, writers Stevan Allred and Joanna Rose. This week’s homework is to make a map of our stories.
If you’re a novelist, have you illustrated your protagonist’s journey? How did you do it? A timeline? A circle or cycle? A map? And did that exercise focus your story? I’d love to hear your comments.
Since I’m working plot-first in my new novel (instead of my usual character-driven method), it’s important to know the ending. That’s one of the things I realized during our first class. I’ve always subscribed to the “I’ll figure it out when my characters do” philosophy, as well as this one: “If it doesn’t surprise the writer, it won’t surprise the reader.” But in a plot-driven novel, that strategy doesn’t really work. And this is perhaps why the story energy has been dragging lately. If you don’t know where you’re going, how can you judge whether you’re getting there?
I spent a few hours yesterday drawing my story with markers on a giant Post-It note. Now I know where this story’s going. I have a dragon to slay. All thanks to doing my homework.