06 Feb Dispatches from a Golden Egger – Part Four
Contribution by Andrew Wright
Hoorah for the BookMap
“I can see clearly now the rain has gone.”
The next stage of my work with Golden Egg was the BookMap, building on these themes and ideas, weaving together the plot from beginning to end. The BookMap was an equally revelatory experience, but one owing more to cool-headed spreadsheety-ness than wild, creative mind-buzzing. The BookMap is about being a grown-up writer, about planning your story so it meets the needs of your reader, not just fulfilling your own desire to chase words out onto the page. It is also about making sure your sojourn through your own creativity is managed, so that those wildly flapping threads your muse tends to push out during the writing journey get tied back satisfyingly into the tapestry of the whole. The BookMap requires level-headedness, quiet and deep, deep concentration.
Over the next month I wrote the BookMap for Sanctuary’s Loss. It became a small novel on its own, over 17,000 words. But what 17,000 words they were, offering me deep insights into not just what was happening when, but just as importantly the order of events off-camera and what I needed to make explicit to the reader and when. The BookMap is effectively a table with headings where you lay out everything clearly so you can see the links across, between and through the manuscript. It requires discipline and lots of sitting about wearing a frown. It is hard work, but like proper exercise or those word puzzles your Nan used to drill you with on long journeys in the car, it don’t ’arf feel good when you finish it. And boy does it do you good too. The columns of the BookMap are adaptable to your individual story, but there are some generic headings that everyone finds useful.
For me, writing a book with a PoV (point of view) that’s close-in third person, the BookMap enabled me to wing over the terrain of my novel and see what the bad guys were doing whilst the action, as it always is in my story, is with the main protagonist. It provided a new and very helpful way to look at my story. Imogen described it a bit like doing crochet (not something I’m au fait with), tugging through threads from the background when and if they are needed to aid the reader’s experience or understanding. It is also provides a ready reckoner for the editor who works with you, enabling you to telegraph foreshadowing information to him or her before it unfolds within the plot.
Next time, How the Book Map affected my approach to my story.