Find Your Way Through

Maps are magic, aren’t they?

A visit to writer Kirsten’s blog, A Scenic Route reminded me to honor my maps.

Honestly, until I read her entry, Getting My Bearings, I’d forgotten about the maps I created for my novel.

So, I’ve plundered the huge pile of miscellaneous papers, notes, stickies, and stuff on my desk and salvaged the following items. The first map I found was the route my heroes take after crash landing on an alien world. They have to reach the capital city within two days, skirting death and destruction on the way.  From this bird’s-eye view I was able to move them forward, describing the surroundings, while not letting them wander into the bush. My battle maps are gone. The military advisor at my house (war veteran husband) suggested a sprawling conventional battlefield might be replaced by door-to-door urban warfare. He was right. Instead of a map, I used a numbered list. But, there are many ways to put maps and other 2D art to use in writing. The tiny escape craft pictured here ferries my characters across the galaxy. I needed a way inside the craft as two species got acquainted by total immersion. Picturing the shell of the ship helped immensely. And, when everyone is back on Earth, I wanted to avoid the fatal error of naming streets in famous cities incorrectly so here is my beautiful plastic covered map of DC.

I have to admit I envy any author who can function without these aides. What would it be like to know where your MC is all the time, how he arrived there, and where he will end up? What a fantastic skill that would be!

Even so, using a picture can create a novel, and a map can envision a world.

How do you envision your world without using words?

Deep Well of Final Revision

Oh, dear. I’ve reached the dreaded center of my novel, the deep well of the middle. While writing the first and second draft, I struggled with chapters ten through thirteen. They are filled with necessary information, but I had a horrid time keeping everything in the present, showing not telling. And now, in final revision, I’m still unhappy with these chapters.

The problem is, I don’t like the plan I made when I was writing out my revision scene cards, and I don’t like my outline. My novel bogs down in the middle. It’s as simple as that. I feel as though I’m pushing a boulder up a hill with a straight pin, and I’m not sure what to do next.

Part of me wants to plunge on ahead, following the scene cards in spite of my reservations. Another part of me wants to combine the chapters, skimming off a bit of each scene, melding what remains into something tight and clear. Yet another side of my whirling mind says go back, do all three chapters over, from scratch.

I won’t do over, but I may combine the scenes into two chapters instead of three. All that’s necessary is a better outline.  After all, three chapters of crossing the universe in an escape boat the size of a school is more than my  stalwart characters can endure.  It’s certainly driving me nuts; I hate to think what it’s doing to them. I don’t even want to think what my beta readers would say about this.

Keeping the story moving, focusing on immediacy and intensity, will get my heroes to their destination with their lives and my sanity in tact.

Onward!