A few comments from the roadbooks I've made.
1) Start by figuring out the fundamentals of the loop you want to make. For me, this typically revolves around gas- point a to gas 1, gas 1 to gas 2, gas 2 to point a or something.
2) Have a clear idea of your audience. You'll choose different options for a group of novice GS riders than Dakar wannabes on 450s.
3) Start farting around on each leg with the benefit of a map. See what you can find that is cool. The ideal place to make a roadbook has lots of roads, all of which go through, sort of a web of roads. That gives you lots of options for how to connect, and how to add or subtract mileage.
4) Look for the unexpected. People really enjoy the stuff that they wouldn't find on their own- out west, that might be old mines, wrecked cars, railroad bridges, big washes, etc. Even a short break from roads is welcome and will be something they talk about back at camp.
5) Do NOT try to write the roadbook before you have the legs dialed in. It's such a PITA to try to unwind instructions you've been writing when you wind up in a dead end- sure, you can just go back to a known point and reset the odometer, but now the odo isn't going to be precise because of the lost marginal mileage, and its easy to confuse the tulip. Figure out where you're going, and then document it.
6) I'm the opposite of Hogwild. I hate technology, and computers loathe my touch. So, after I've completed steps 1-4, I ride the route with a little spiral bound notebook and pen. At every intersection, I make a note of mileage, draw a tulip, and write the description. No one will see this except me.
7) Then, I use Hogwild's Excel template, and enter in mileage and notes (and occasional GPS coordinates to rescue lost souls). I print this, then use a fine and medium tip sharpie (to give me different sizes for roads) to draw in the tulips as neatly as possible. Then I photocopy the result. This is quick and effective, but the downside is that it can't be shared electronically.
8) A few other comments:
- Regarding intersections that you go straight through: I mark them only if I haven't given an instruction in a while, so that people can stay on their mileage.
- Start looking for turns that look the same that are close together. These are great tools for messing with your friends.
- The key to a great roadbook is finding the cool, unexpected stuff. My roadbook process often starts when I try to figure out how I'm going to lure my friends into something I stumble across, like a crazy chute or washed out gully or something that is too neat not to share.
- Mix up the pace- give them some fast, then some slow, then some fast, then some slow. Nobody wants to blast all day, nobody wants to grind all day.
- Hogwild is the king. His roadbooks are maybe better than the ASOs. Ignore everything I say for what he says.