Monday, August 24, 2015

Mapping it Out

Back when I first started writing the Fred Vickery series, I decided I needed to create a map so I could keep the town straight in my head. I didn't figure out that I needed the map at all until I'd written the whole first book and started on the second. Then, suddenly, I realized that I couldn't remember where the Frame-Up was in relation to the Bluebird Cafe, or how far Lacey's General Store was from the sheriff's office.

Getting myself on track took some doing, but within a couple of days I had a lovely hand-drawn (in pencil) map on a piece of grid paper. I kept it beside my computer and it served me well for six books -- although at one point around book #5, I lost the map for a little while (no, I never made a copy) and sent myself into a panic.

I learned my lesson from that experience, and now painstakingly (and slowly) create my maps in Excel at the beginning of a project so I can keep it current as I add new locations. It's not easy and it takes forever -- much longer than drawing a square and penciling in the name of a family or a store -- but it's also not quite so easy to lose.

Having the map is really important, especially when I'm working with a real location, which I'm doing in my current WIP. It has taken me all afternoon, but I finally have a map of about half the town of West Yellowstone, color-coded so I can see at a glance what's what. (And because color-coding things just makes me happy.)

Unfortunately, it's only half the town, and I realized late this afternoon that I must add a gazillion columns on the left-hand side of my in order to fit in the rest of the town on the map -- but hey! That's okay. Tomorrow is another day.

No comments: