X is for X Marks the Spot


If you stumbled upon me through the A to Z Blog Challenge, welcome. If not, check out the challenge and all those participating at their site.


X is a hard letter to find writing words for. Some writing friends came up with a few more, but this was the first idea I had for X and I like it.

So X Marks the Spot.

And that’s all about treasure and treasure hunts. And when you get down to it most, if not all stories, can be broken down in terms of a treasure hunt (kind of like all stories are a journey of some kind, physical or otherwise).

Treasure hunts have a few key pieces. There’s the treasure, the map, and the journey to get to the treasure. I’ll go over how each one is useful for conceptualizing your plot.

The Treasure

This is what your character is after, their main goal. In a romance, that would be finding the significant other and winning them over. In a mystery/thriller the treasure is catching or defeating the antagonist. In some books, there’s actual treasure to be had and that’s what the character is after.

The Map

The map is the key part of this whole thing. X marks the spot on the map after all. There are several things about the map in relation to your story.

Does your main character have the map? Or are they bumbling around blind? Do they think they have the map but it’s the wrong one? Is the X on their map pointing to what they think they want, but not what they actually want?

Does the antagonist have the map so they keep getting the jump on your protagonist? Can the reader see the map? Do they know what’s coming and where the next threat/conflict will emerge, or are they left guessing? There’s a lot of room to play here.

The Journey

I already mentioned that every story can be boiled down to a journey. Some journeys are metaphysical, some are psychological, and some are physical. On the hunt for their treasure, your character will take some kind of journey, whether it’s as complicated as deep soul searching that points them to the meaning of their life and thus the treasure they want, or as simple as walking into the next room to meet the person they’ve always been meant to love.

The journey can be a straight line, a serpentine route, or have tons of hills and mountains to conquer. You have to craft the journey that matches your character with their treasure. Sometimes you have to create the journey that will enlighten them that the treasure they want isn’t the treasure they need.

During the course of the story, your character is going to take a journey to find a treasure, and by the end, they’ll be able to mark that X on the map to mark that important spot.

This is one way of looking at plot and the narrative of the story. What other strategies do you use to conceptualize your plot? Are there devices or charts you like to use?

In one of my recent works in progress freedom was the treasure my characters were after and most of their journey was metaphysical and psychological rather than physical, and they most certainly didn’t have the map. How about in your story? What’s the treasure, journey, and map like for your characters?


*Title Photo Is a Stock Image, Not my Work

2 thoughts on “X is for X Marks the Spot

  1. darlamsands

    Oh, I’m glad to have found you. Unfortunately, my Camp NaNoWriMo novel is all over the place this month. But I’m glad to be writing, at least. I wrote about xeriscaping today over on http://darlamsands.blogspot.com/ and am currently number 1179 on the A to Z challenge list. Best wishes!

    • Hi! I’m glad you found me too. I’ll have to go check out what you’ve been doing this month. My Camp NaNo has been all over the place too. At least 1/3 of the words are from other projects. I’ve been all over the place but at least I’m writing.
      Good luck with the last few days of AtoZ and Camp!

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