As promised all the way back at the start of the summer, I’m finally sharing my free book mapping template with you. As a reminder, a book map is best thought of as an outline which is created after your story has been written—so it’s not what you intend to write but what you have written. It’s best thought of as an editing tool to help you examine your story prior to redrafting. But you can also use a book map as a plotting tool, to help you examine any weak areas and address them prior to writing. How—and if—you use it all depends on your creative process.
To get your free book map just click on the link below to download it to your computer.
You’ll see that I’ve created the template in Excel but, as mentioned in my previous post, you can create a book map using any number of different formats. I’ve also created book maps using MS Word and even good old fashioned pen and paper in my notebook. But I find Excel to be the most helpful when creating a more in-depth book map as I can quickly filter information as I see fit. I can also add notes to the different columns to give myself (or the writer) reminders as to what’s most important to take into consideration when analysing the story.
When looking at the template you’ll notice that there are a number of different columns with headings for character development, plot progression and subplot progression as well as a couple of columns focussing on theme. You can alter these to fit your manuscript. So, for example, where Character 1 and Character 2 are listed, enter your characters names instead. Choose the themes you’ll be following in this draft and name them (chances are there are more than two). Alternatively, if you’d like to focus purely on plot progression, then omit the other columns. Next, enter the information which is relevant to this character / plot strand / theme in each column. As you’ll probably have noticed by now, the column on the far left is for the chapter number / title. The information given in this column can be further broken down by scene. As you go through the manuscript, continue adding information to the relevant cells.
Once you’ve finished filling in all of the columns, take a step back. Have you captured all of the information about the main characters, plot strands, etc? If so, take a short break and, when you return, read each column from top to bottom to see how each element is handled throughout the story. Then, read from right to left to see how they connect (or not). At the very end you can create a row ‘tallying up’ these elements.
Some questions to consider when analysing your book map:
Does the protagonist grow and change as a result of his/her experiences?
How about any supporting characters you’ve chosen to map?
If you’ve chosen to map character relationships, then how do these change throughout the story?
Do all the plot threads resolve themselves?
Are the themes consistent throughout? There may not be an entry in every chapter for the theme but it should be represented consistently throughout the story.
Used wisely, this tool should help you look deeper into your story and its various elements.
I hope you enjoy your adventure in book mapping! I’d love to hear how you get on so please do consider sharing how you found the experience by leaving a comment below.
Until next time.