15 February

Mapping the Plot Forest to Escape the Book Beast...


Oh, happy day!

I’ve packed my sack. I’ve donned by sturdy boots. And I’m off to wander around my book’s Plot Forest… WHEEE!!!

The warm sunshine on my face.

The soft breeze…

I trek here, snoop there. It’s a wonderland of story ideas I can gather as plot treasure…

I sit down on the lush grass and I examine them all!

Hacking out words of awe, following each avenue, until…

Storm clouds brew.

Sky closes in.

A growing growling emanates from within the plot forest.

A big, old, hairy bruit — the Mighty Book Beast — lumbers up behind me!

I run! I run in circles! I run into dead ends! Round and round and back and forth, the Book Beast gaining on me with every step!

Fear, abject plot forest fear, topples me, and I roll, roll, roll down the craggy hill. Beaten and bruised, I gather my wits and my limbs, and I break free of that nebulous, nefarious forest, never to return again.


Yup. *insert look of disdain at you happy-go-UNlucky hapless plot forest trekkers*


Who in their hair-brained mind enters a literal or literary forest without a map? Who? Who, I say? Those whose desiccated bones are found years later in the mire and muck, their carcass splayed out on the dry, dusty pages the Unfinished Book Beast gnawed on that serene sunny afternoon when you were romping around your plot forest without a care in the world like some lobotomized Walmart greeter.


  • IF you’re new to book writing.
  • IF you haven’t yet finished one book, much less many.
  • IF you haven’t a clue about what it takes to create a complete, well-formulated story plot, with highs and lows — action tension and narrative pause beats.

Then what in the fricken fairyland are you doing gallivanting in a world in which you haven’t a clue to safely traverse?

Yes. Expert writers, who know their genre plot line backwards and forwards, can begin and end their tales without much prior mapping, but that skill level can take years of experience with umpteen finished books under their arms.

If you’re new to book writing, here’s a Fun Fact: YOU AIN’T THEM.

Yeah, yeah, slay me, your one and only realistic Messenger, like I haven’t been slayed by other newbies before…

As an example, I’ll give ya a short Don’t Do This tale…

Recently, I started a brand-new series, entering into the murder mystery genre world. It's a venture customized for online readers who want light and airy, Pringles potato chip addicted tales of mayhem fun.

I dove into this project before taking a break after finishing a very complex WWII literary epic-length work. I was mentally exhausted. That state hampered my reasoning, and in taking on this series, I began to write in a desperation mode that is not normally me, by beginning the four-book tale with only a bare-bones plot line.

That slip-shod preparation has made finishing Book One a far more tedious, far more edit unfriendly exercise, taking me many months to finish when it should have only taken me one.

I know better.

I’ve always prepared at least 80% of my scenes before I've plunked even one laptop key.

But in my desperation to finish this new project, I threw my brain out the window, and with it any semblance of order and expediency in finishing the first book.

Yep. Even an old dog needs to RELEARN old tricks. Seriously. If you look up the word, pathetic, you’ll see my dumb-as-a-post mug blithely smiling back at you.

Fact: There is no getting around mapping out your book. I don’t care if it’s fiction or non. I don’t care if it’s 50 grand or 500. Before you slam those laptop keys, know where in the heck you’re going, realizing your book's outlined scenes are equivalent to having a map in any forest you plan on escaping alive.

HOMEWORK: Today, if you’re stuck, if you’ve stopped writing because you haven’t a clue as to what to write next, STOP Writing, and START Mapping. Outline on cards what happens in each scene, what characters are there, and how that scene forwards the fiction tale or non-fiction thesis. There is no way around this pre-writing exercise if you're new to the book writing game or have taken on a new genre.

Do NOT listen to the so-called Pantsers out there. For every book they plunk out in a micro-instant, sky-high on their wayward glee, picture their post draft future bogged down like a trapped animal in an editorial quagmire that will take forever to clear, or cost big bucks in pro-editor fees.

The best quality/time/cost-effective way to finish a book? Start with a complete map. A universal rule of thumb Yours Truly sadly forgot on her way down Desperation Alley. *slapping myself with something hard and sharp*

My Book Two: Heck, yeah, that baby will have a V-8, 3D plot map that will glisten gloriously in the warm sunshine when I next trek through the plot forest. It’ll come with Book Beast Bear Spray, too, it’ll be that good.

My Plot Map Heaven... so grand...

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