For the last several months I’ve been stuck in Book Three. Done some revision and stage-setting, but haven’t been able to charge ahead through the big mid-book cliffhanger.

The problem is that at this phase of Book Three, I’m supposed to mastermind an elaborate heist. This is difficult for obvious reasons, the main one being that I can’t do my usual thing and just start writing. Two paragraphs into pantsing one character’s subplot and I’ll already be screwing up another’s. If I don’t envision the entire interlocking mechanism before hitting the switch, it’ll end up falling apart.

The heist is going down in a palatial underground complex. Currently it’s kind of a black box in there, and this is the problem. I have a highly visual imagination, and I can’t even begin to plot out who’s supposed to do what where until I get blueprints for this place. I know what’s going on with my characters before they go in, and I know what they’ll be like when they come out, and I’ve caught glimpses of what happens inside, but the nitty-gritty details elude me. What I need is a map—or better yet, a 3D render.

So that’s what I’m making. Not a 3D render; a map that’ll let me render the setting in my mind.

In a way this is a positive predicament. Much to my chagrin, I’m right there with my characters. They need to infiltrate this place, and so do I. Hopefully the map gets me inside.

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