Mapping Your Writing

When I was a snot-nosed kid, before my parents paved our driveway, my little brother, Roger, and I used to “play cars” in the dirt after school. Fun times involving early miniature cars and a small gas station made from thin metal and painted with Gulf Oil Company thematic colors and emblems.

We would scrape “streets” in the dirt, and place mock-up houses and stores along the way. Each path served to lead our cars back to the gas station, with its ramp leading up to a roof-top parking platform.

We were mapping our imaginary town. Ensuring that “all roads led to Rome,” so to speak, making the gas station the focus of our attention.

I serve up this analogy to relate how mapping your writing is pretty much the same process. The structure is there; only the component names differ.

Overall, every sentence (scenery) complements its paragraph (houses, stores, etc.). Every paragraph complements its chapter (street), every chapter leads to the main theme (gas station).

Logically, then, the cars are your readers. Sentence by sentence. Paragraph by paragraph. Chapter by chapter.

If you are mapping your writing correctly, your readers will arrive at your gas station after successfully navigation of your town (story). Which in turn means they have invested all their energy (gas), and are in need of a refill.

Your next story is that refill.

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