I admit that I’ve surprised even myself with the progress my story-shaping effort is taking with this methodical approach to outlining it in advance.

Over the last few days I have walked around a story circle, planted some plot flags, and then sketched out some key character profiles. The next step is to queue those characters up into a collection of settings and spaces where the action can occur.

I was lamenting to my wife the other day that one of the biggest barriers I’ve routinely encountered every single time I write something (at least something longer than a short story) is setting. Invariably, I’ve come up with some great locations to kick things off, and a good idea of where I want my characters to end up, but then…


One of my biggest flaws as a writer is defaulting to travelling sets.

Every. Damn. Time. I don’t know if it is creative fatigue or writing myself into a corner, but without exception I get 5… 8… 10 chapters in and suddenly the characters are walking somewhere having a conversation about where they are going.

Boring. Exposition-riddled. Lacking interest. Blah writing.

This time, before I write a word I am going to map out every single stage.

And by stage I mean… The Stage… as in something that can be set, encapsulated, described, dressed: a room, a kitchen, a cell block, a narrow hallway, an elevator shaft… Somewhere very specifically not between somewheres.

The ultimate goal is that every chapter will be as much tied to a set stage, as it is tied to a group of characters, and a piece of the story with purpose and motivation, and not the spaces between those stages.

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