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Meet Laura. Laura writes Westerns. Her books about life in the American Wild West have become so popular that everybody rushes to buy them. Her readers are never disappointed, because Laura's books are very consistent. How does she manage this?

Well, before Laura writes anything, she sits down at her desk, sweeps aside the clutter, and places a single piece of paper down on her desk. It is on this one page that she writes her whole story.

How can Laura get the whole story onto one page? Simple. Everything she writes on the page is just a sequence of events, or plot. Setting, character development, and how her characters interact is all taken care of elsewhere. How does she do that? Let's find out.

You see, Laura, more than anything else, is orderly and consistent. It's what has made her books so popular. Let's say that she has just sat down to write "Gunfight at Old West Saloon", her thirty-fifth book.

The first thing that Laura needs is a setting. So she pulls down a binder she has marked "Western Towns", opens to the first page, and reads the first few lines:

Every Western town has a few key ingredients: stables, saloons, sheriffs, and a couple troublemakers. A standard town would have three stables and be located West of the Mississippi sometime around 1850.




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