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Using the Story Map, Scene Map, and Timeline Features

What's the difference between these tools?

These tools are similar in that they're meant to help you organize your story and scenes. But because writers fall at all points along the plotter-pantser continuum, we've included a variety of tools, so there's something for everyone.

A Story Map is a tool that allows you to map out a story according to Michael Hauge's Six Stage Plot Structure. Because the concept of story structure can be overwhelming, we've provided lots of information to help you understand the way successful stories are structured and guide you in applying the process to your own project. On the story map page, you'll see a diagram containing each of the story points. Just hover over a point to see an explanation of what it is and what it should accomplish. When you're ready to make your own story map, click the New link and fill in the fields. If at any point you need guidance on a particular point, clicking the icon will explain everything in detail.

Scene Maps give you the chance to plan out individual scenes in a story or even a series. Because writers have varying comfort levels when it comes to planning, we have two scene maps to choose from. The Formal map allows you to plan your scene according to your hero's character arc; by figuring out his inner and outer motivation, what's at stake, and the inner and outer conflict that will plague him, you'll have a clearer idea of what should happen in your scene. If that's too structured for your tastes, there's also an Informal option; this one is a little more relaxed, giving you prompts to help you figure out what should happen in your scene without going into great detail.

Our Timeline tool offers even more flexibility, allowing you to include whatever information you're comfortable with to plan your scene. But the beauty of this tool is that it it's not only for scene building. Maybe you want to keep track of your character’s progress as he journeys, naming each town he visits and what happens there. Or maybe you need to plot out chronological world building events, like battles during a war or specific holidays and rituals that come into play in your story. Or perhaps you want to capture the order of clues your police detective hero discovers during the course of a murder mystery. Basically, whatever you want to track? You can. And if you want to rearrange the order? No problem! Just drag the timeline boxes to reorder them.

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