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A writer friend of mine recently emailed me a tip for helping to structure novels. She got this tip from a friend, so we’re playing a game of Telephone here, with me passing it along to you.

If you’re having difficulty mapping a complicated novel, try creating a grid with your novel’s themes along one side and your characters along another. Then, within the grid, match your characters to the themes they illustrate. Not every character will drive forward each theme, and that’s fine.

I initially envisioned that an “X” could go in a grid box that matches a particular character to a particular theme, but you could expand on this and write in the grid box how a particular character drives a specific theme. Then you could see if something was missing.

Also, keep in mind that a location or a prop could be key to a theme, so you might want to add this to your list of characters.

Thanks, C, for the idea! (And to those who passed it along until it got to you.)