Storyspace Maps and Editing

Thursday, January 10th, 2008

No, these aren’t weird pictures of galaxies, they’re Storyspace maps of Brimmer and Death at separate stages of development.

The first is an older rendering of the map. The colored hub at the center demonstrates how the story developed and grew from an early conception of several paths. Basically, the reader would click on a letter in the word “Miracle” and proceed from there. Thus, I began the work by writing an “m” path, an “i” path, and so forth. While this idea worked okay as a generator, I quickly found that the 7 path requirement was unnatural and arbitrary.

The second map shows a much better picture of how things eventually shook out. Two major paths, one of them happening a little later than the first, another linking out at the opener. The two major narrative expanses join at a common reference point, a sort of Second Act, and sprints to the end from there. The two views show how the Storyspace map functions as an editing tool, providing opportunities for managing structure and solving creative riddles.

Let’s say a question about plot surfaced: say, what prompted Brimmer to take a particular action. The structural hypertext view provided information about “when” and “where” the action was happening in relation to another. In Brimmer and Death, the initial space isn’t all that important to plot, but it does supply a space for context and conflict, laying out what Brimmer desires. It happens at some undisclosed future relevant to the narrative. Later parts of the story will reference what happens in the initial scene in important ways, but I didn’t realize this when the initial space was arbitrarily located in an arbitrary path on the old map. It was merely another lexia. If I could “see” it as a place to begin, then I could “see” a much more efficient narrative ordering.

One response to “Storyspace Maps and Editing”

  1. gibb says:

    Rather interesting. My initial reaction to Map#3 was a desire to find a picture within its form. After studying it for a few moments, it appeared as a production line or one of those Professor Gadget’s neato rolling marble, water wheel, gear driven machines that ends up moving a clock minute arm or wakes you up out of bed. Indeed incorporating architecture into story structure as never before. It does influence as well as assist the writing process.