A Practical Guide to Book MappingAugust 19, 2015
Editing a book is hard. So is keeping the big picture in mind, but it's a lot easier if you have a bird's eye view. Recently, I started editing a novel and found I needed a way to keep track of the novel's big picture. I've done this in the past with notecards on a cork board, but I needed something editable that wouldn't take rearranging eighty notecards or lengths of string to move things around. Anything I couldn't access from Panera was not an option, and if it was too complicated of a system, I know I wouldn't keep up with it.
Angela Myron turned me on to the book mapping technique. She shared JK Rowlings infamous hand drawn book map with the group. I'm sure every Potterhead and writer alike has seen it floating around on the internet, but the idea intrigued me.
I did some Google searching and found a few articles from writers who use book maps to help them through the editing process, but everyone seemed to have a different way of doing it. There doesn't seem to be a wrong way so long as your chart gives you a look at the information YOU want to look at.
Next I'll show you the chart I built for my own purposes and why I built it that way. Feel free to take this method and make it your own. It has been a great help in getting a birds eye view of my novel, and it might work well for yours too if it's something you need during editing.
And there it is! In all its color coded glory (click the photos to enlarge)! So here's the lowdown:
*(Yes I did write out the class schedule for my fairy godmothers in training, and it's a block schedule so it changes depending on the day of the week.)
Columns F and onward are the goals of secondary characters (i.e. Imogen and Specs) and plotlines for the subplots of the novel (i.e. Zelda's Magic Struggles). I'll make note in these columns what a character does in the scene or if they are just mentioned. This a great way to see how long it's been since you mentioned a character or a subplot. As you can see in column G, I haven't mentioned Specs in a while and I don't want the reader to forget about him, so I'll probably add him into chapter five where it makes sense for him to be in the scene.
As you can probably see from the silly nature of some of my comments in the spreadsheet, this doesn't have to be formal, but it should let you see what the goal is in every scene and it should keep you from losing plotlines and characters in the shuffle and chaos of drafting. That's it. If you have any questions, sound off in the comments.