It’s all right. You’re safe to click on the picture. Even though it maps out the plot of my next novel – the sequel to Talus and the Frozen King – I’ve blurred out most of the detail. So there are no spoilers. Promise.
So why show you the picture at all if it’s all blurry? Firstly, posting it here on the blog makes this a kind of groundbreaking ceremony. A ritual moment. The book is begun. It’s official. Now there’s no going back.
Secondly, I thought some of you might like a peek into my writing process.
The mind map in the picture is the product of about two hours work with pen and paper – based on roughly one year’s thinking and an aborted attempt from six months ago to write a first draft. It tracks most of the major events in the story, as well as identifying the motivations of and relationships between the main characters. It makes note of key locations, themes and any other background details that seemed like a good idea at the time.
Is it complete? Far from it. There’s plenty of detail at the beginning (top left), but things get steadily more straggly as the story unfolds. The second half (right-hand page) is very vague – just a sketch made up of the broadest possible strokes. That’s intentional. I know exactly where all my characters are when the book opens – both geographically and in their own heads – and I know precisely the sequence of events that’s going to get the story rolling. But do I really know how those characters are going to react to the various twists, turns and set-pieces I have planned for them? Do I heck.
So, while these two pieces of paper do in many respects tell the story from start to finish, in no way do they represent what the book is actually going to be. I’m setting out on a journey here and, while I like to start with a road map, a compass and a rough idea of where I’m headed, I also like to embrace the knowledge that ahead of me lie impassable mountains, trackless deserts and a big, empty space marked Here Be Dragons.
Not that there are any dragons in this book. I want to make that clear. Dragons are big scary monsters that eat helpless maidens and burn down villages. If it’s dragons you want, you’ll have to look elsewhere.
So does that mean there are no monsters in the story at all?
You’ll just have to wait and see.