In 2009, I attended Darcy Pattison’s Novel Revision Retreat. One of the many things she encouraged us to do while working with our manuscript was to check for “emotional zig-zags” within our first hundred lines. This technique Darcy developed after having a manuscript rejected for characters who felt “too flat”. She determined she’d change her manuscript so that each description carried emotional weight and used Libba Bray’s A GREAT AND TERRIBLE BEAUTY as a way to teach herself how to accomplish this (go read the first chapter if you haven’t before. It’s wonderfully done).
I was working on another manuscript at the time but came home to MAY B., the book I’d recently finished and had just sent out to agents. I decided I should look for the emotional changes within MAY and set up a chart, poem by poem, marking the topic and emotion in each. Unbeknownst to me, it was my first book map.
I first learned the term “book mapping” write reading Scholastic editor Cheryl Klein’s book, SECOND SIGHT: AN EDITOR’S TALKS OF WRITING, REVISING AND PUBLISHING BOOKS FOR CHILDREN AND YOUNG ADULTS. A book map is simply a quick way to get an overview of an entire book, scene by scene. It can be plugged into an elaborate chart, showing things like point of view, setting, conflict, character growth, and “emotional zig-zags”, as Darcy would say, or can be a simple list with a few words meant to remind an author (or editor) of various points along a story’s path.