The Sweet Spot Map: A Secret To Creating Stories You Really Love
Want to write in more than one genre (or sub-genre), and bring your readers along?
Writer and teacher extraordinaire, Holly Lisle, has developed a technique called the Sweet Spot Map that helps you to achieve both of them.
She presents the technique in an eBook that’s one of the 29 lessons of her How To Think Sideways course. (The link leads to Amazon)
The Map explains why some of your readers adore one book or series from you but dislike another. They connect with the people, things and concepts in the first book but not with those of the second.
The Sweet Spot Map is a mind map. Six of them actually, clustered around words:
– I Fear
– I Need
– I Love
– I Hate
– I’m Drawn To
– I Get Shivers From
To create a Sweet Spot Map, start with one of the subjects that feels most natural to you. You need a separate paper for each map, preferably a big one. If you don’t have a big sheet, you can make on one by taping smaller papers together.
Draw your association clouds by hand. Writing long hand activates the right side of the brain and connects you better with your Muse. You can later make an electronic version of the map if you want.
When the ideas stop coming, take a break and do something else for a while. Or tackle another map and see if you still run dry. This is an eternity project and you should add to your Map every time you find a new shiney like or an icky dislike.
Some of the six maps might be easier to fill out than others. For some reason I found the negatives, fears and hates the easiest. My shivery area is still fairly empty. That’s where I put the things that make me feel giddy joy, awe, wonder and sadness.
In case you want to see an example, here’s a part of my I Need map.
One great source of Map items is your favourite books and movies. Go through them with a paper and pen. Every time you come across with something that makes you say “I like that”, “Cool”, “Wow”, “Eww”, “Oh no” and so on, that something belongs to your Sweet Spot Map.
Short version of this is to decide which scenes and images from the favourites are the most memorable to you, and add just them to the Map.
You can also go through blurbs of books and lift words, ideas and concepts from the back covers. Most genres have sites that list all new releases of the year or the next month. It’s helpful to see the blurbs in context. That’s when you really notice how some books hook you right away when others are just meh or lukewarm.
As for practical applications, the Sweet Spot Map is a goldmine for story starters, themes, character ideas, character motivations, fears and loves, character traits and cool scene elements.
I’ll be covering the uses more next week.
What did you think of the technique? What’s on your Sweet Spot Map?