Story Mapping

I map everything out in advance. When I have developed plot, characters and incidents in my mind I write out a “skeletal” of the story or book. In the case of a book, I divide it into so many sections, ­usually eight or nine-representing the outstanding periods in the story. In each section I write down what characters are necessary, what they do, what their setting is, and quite a bit of what they say.

When the skeleton is complete I begin the actual writing, and so thoroughly have I become saturated with the story during the making of the skeleton that I feel as if I were merely describing and setting down something that I have actually seen happening, and the clothing of the dry bones with flesh goes on rapidly and easily.

This does not, however, prevent changes taking place as I write. Sometimes an incident I had thought was going to be very minor assumes major proportions or vice versa. Sometimes, too, characters grow or dwindle contrary to my first intentions. But on the whole I follow my plan pretty closely and the ending is very often written out quite fully in the last section before a single word of the first chapter is written.

I revise very extensively and the notes with which my completed manuscript is peppered are surely and swiftly bringing down my typist’s gray hairs with sorrow to the grave. But these revisions deal only with descriptions and conversation. Characters, plot and incidents are never changed.

Canadian author of novels (i.e., Anne of Green Gables), short stories, poems and essays. 1874 – 1942

I’m certainly a fan of L.M. Montgomery, not only because she is Canadian, originally from the east coast and for some time she lived not far from where I now live, but for the simple reason that her personal story is as interesting as her work.

Even her poetry reflects an east coast life, as is heard through one of her book of poems, “Watchmen and Other Poems” (1916):

My 'Longshore Lass

Far in the mellow western sky,
Above the restless harbor bar,
A beacon on the coast of night,
Shines out a calm, white evening star;
But your deep eyes, my 'longshore lass,
Are brighter, clearer far.

The glory of the sunset past
Still gleams upon the water there,
But all its splendor cannot match
The wind-blown brightness of your hair;
Not any sea-maid's floating locks
Of gold are half so fair.

The waves are whispering to the sands
With murmurs as of elfin glee;
But your low laughter, 'longshore lass,
Is like a sea-harp's melody,
And the vibrant tones of your tender voice
Are sweeter far to me.