Story Mapping

I cannot begin writing on a story until I see its framework pretty clearly in mind. Getting that framework ready involves several days of beating my brains in agony.

Recently I have found it helpful to try to write out from time to time a synopsis. Especially must I see the end – know toward what I am working. The incidents which develop the situation, I invent as I write. Usually, I begin at the beginning and write straight through. However, I sometimes find after a few days that I have begun in the wrong place.

That happened to my latest story. Having finished a scene with which I intended originally to lead off, I realized that I had begun too far along in the action. Getting in the background of previous events made the writing awkward, clogged the action. I went back therefore and began with a previous event. Then I patched these two fragments together, and proceeded to the next scene.

As concerns the main structure and method of a story, usually I revise very little. When the first draft is finished, I spend two or three days in “tightening up” the English and enriching the conversations and descriptions. I am impatient of rewriting – probably a lingering trace of old newspaper habits. However, I am married to a fiction writer, who reads my first drafts. Quoting “Merton of the Movies”, “she is more than a wife, she is a pal and, I may add, my severest critic.” Once or twice, when I have told my story awkwardly, she has sent me back to my desk to write it all over again from another angle of approach.

American author, writer and journalist, associated with the muckrakers. 1873 – 1948