Step #2 For Writing A Novel (Writing Tip #83)

So do you have an idea you're dying to write? What do you do next? Just start writing?

I used to do this sort of madness. Writing to see where it takes me. Usually it would take me nowhere, even if I managed to somehow write 400 pages.

Some authors write this way--seeing where the story will take them. But I think it's better and wiser to do a story map first. This is basically outlining the story that you're about write.

You can do a story map in any form that works for you. I use sheets of paper, then I will also narrow the story down and write the outline on my dry erase board that faces my desk. This way I can have the story map in front of me at all times to know where I'm going and what I'm supposed to do.

The story map doesn't have to be long and detailed. But you need to figure out how the story is going to start, and keep going, and get through that treacherous middle part, and eventually end. This framework helps as you write.

Part of the beauty and mystery in writing is when you deviate from the story map and when you surprise yourself. That's why I don't think you need to go overboard with outlining your story. You just need to know where you're going and how you're going to get there.

Okay--so you have your IDEA YOU'RE DYING TO WRITE and you have your STORY MAP. Do you start writing?

Not yet.

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