If you’re writing a short story or novel, it’s important to know where you’re going with your narrative. One of the best ways to keep your storyline on track is with a story map. Often used by teachers to help students organize story elements, story maps are just as useful outside the classroom and can be an excellent addition to any author’s writing tool kit. The experts at Writer’s Relief reveal how story maps can improve your writing by helping you manage your plot, characters, and themes.
Improve Your Writing Using Story Maps
A story map makes it easier to visually organize and plan your story. You can lay out your idea by starting with the title, then branch off into the various themes, scenes, settings, and plot devices. Having a concrete, visual outline for your story will help you focus and see the entire narrative at once, rather than just one section at a time. The story map will show you how the entire story fits together—and may even reveal connections you weren’t aware of! You can see how specific character, setting, and plot choices can influence scenes that will happen later in the story.
Creating A Story Map
There’s no single way to make a story map. You can use a pen and paper to draw a timeline connecting scenes and plot points (which you can see here), or you can start with a bubble in the center of the page and have events and character arcs branch out from the middle and connect to other events to weave the plot together. You can be as flexible and detailed (or concise) as you want to be—it’s your map!
You can also create a digital story map using one of these tools:
Whether you choose to go old school or high tech when creating your story map, be sure to include the following details:
Characters: Their backgrounds, personalities, growth, choices they make, and the consequences
Settings: When and where portions of your story take place and how this impacts the sequence of events
Plot Elements: What happens and why, what comes next, how the past, present, and future collide, and the beginning, middle, and ending of the story
Themes: The message and/or purpose of your story, the mood and atmosphere, and what you want your readers to take away
Anything Else You Want To Track: The story map should be customized for your unique writing experience. If you feel something is important to note and track, like a plot twist or side quest, be sure to include any other important elements in your story map.
With a story map, you’ll know where you’re taking your reader and how you’re getting there. The details you note in your map can now be expanded upon to create your short story or novel. And once you’ve finished following your map and your story is complete, the research experts at Writer’s Relief can help you on the next leg of your journey—getting published! We can help target the best markets and boost your odds of getting an acceptance or an agent request. Learn more about our services and submit your writing sample to our Review Board today!
Question: Which story mapping method would you use?