FEATURED GUEST POST: A Story Roadmap (with author SM Ford)

by | Oct 11, 2016 | guest post, writing

I hope everyone is having a great week. I am pleased to welcome fellow author SM Ford onto my blog today. She happens to be another pantser. For those of you who are new to my blog, a “pantser” is someone who “writes by the seat of their pants” it is the opposite of a “plotter” or “outliner”. Well, today she is going to talk about what a Story Roadmap is and how it can assist you in your writing!

A Story Roadmap

road-1668916_1920I am not an outliner. If I outline a story with explicit detail, I find I have no interest in writing it.

So instead, I’m a pantser with a plan.

Here’s how it usually works for me.

  • I start with a character with a problem or in some situation.

Then in no certain order, the following happen:

  • Usually some kind of theme comes to mind.
  • I name my protagonist.
  • Next, I think about other people who would be in the main character’s life, whether in the background, or right up in the action. Whether antagonist(s) or supporting cast.
  • I decide where the main character lives.
  • I think more about the age, personality, habits of this person.
  • I may do some reading and research on their job or schooling or some other aspect of their situation.
  • Somewhere in there, I’m thinking about when and where the story starts.

Have I written anything down at this point? Usually, not much. The gender of the character and his or her problem. A few names, a few brief details—more reminders than anything lengthy. Character sketches don’t work that well for me.

I carry this character around with me for a while until I’ve got:

  • an idea of how the main story problem might be resolved.

I may not be clear on details, but knowing my character will win in some way is an important part of my plan. This and theme gives me a goal to head towards.

Then I start writing by introducing the character in some way and introducing some problem that may not be the main problem of the story. It’s similar to driving from Washington state through Missouri to Florida. You’re generally headed east and south, but there are a variety of routes to get there. Each time you choose a new road it affects how long the trip will take and what you’ll see along the way. In a book the personality, goals, desires, emotions of the main character direct much of the trip. Just like a flat tire or busted axle can change your trip, the problems, antagonist(s), other characters change the story.

This method means I learn about my characters as I write. I discover their voices. We may take side trips together that don’t end up staying in the story. But on the other hand, I’ve pulled scenes out that I thought weren’t important, then had to put them back in later.

Mainly, I’m working on how my character gets himself out of the situation. That keeps me moving forward to the end.

Will I revise once I reach the end? Of course. But so do outliners.


alone_500x750Ready for adventure in the snowy Colorado mountains, Cecelia Gage is thrilled to be employed as the live-in housekeeper for her favorite bestselling author. The twenty-five-year old doesn’t count on Mark Andrews being so prickly, nor becoming part of the small town gossip centering on the celebrity. Neither does she expect to become involved in Andrews family drama and a relationship with Simon Lindley, Mark’s oh so good-looking best friend. And certainly, Cecelia has no idea she’ll be mixed up in a murder investigation because of this job.

Will Cecelia’s faith in God get her through all the trouble that lies ahead?

Buy Links:

Amazon – https://www.amazon.com/Alone-SM-Ford-ebook/dp/B01HR7O0Y0/#nav-subnav

Barnes and Noble – http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/alone-sm-ford/1124041307?ean=2940158495786

iBooks – https://itunes.apple.com/us/book/alone/id1129622915?mt=11

Kobo – https://store.kobobooks.com/en-us/ebook/alone-74

Smashwords – https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/650072

About SM Ford

smfordSM Ford writes inspirational fiction for adults, although teens may find the stories of interest, too.

When she was thirteen, she got hooked on Mary Stewart’s romantic suspense books, although she has been a reader as long as she can remember, and is an eclectic reader. Inspirational authors she enjoys include: Francine Rivers, Bodie Thoene, Dee Henderson, Jan Karon, and many more.

SM Ford is a Pacific Northwest gal, but has also lived in the midwest (Colorado and Kansas) and on the east coast (New Jersey). She and her husband have two daughters and two sons-in-law and three grandsons. She can’t figure out how she got to be old enough for all that, however.

She also loves assisting other writers on their journeys.

Connect with SM Ford and her books:

Website: www.smfordbooks.com

Twitter: https://twitter.com/SMFordwriter

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/SMFordBooks

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Sara R. Turnquist