Story mapping: a powerful method to build great stories

A simple story diagram- whatever yours looks like, it can help draw a journey on a map

A simple story diagram- whatever yours looks like, it can help draw a journey on a map

Here’s a peek into our creativity. We’re using a special tool for story development, that you may not learn from verbally inclined teachers or pros.

It’s a hand-drawn map-making exercise.  This is especially powerful for writers who work in animation and fantasy (and need to get beyond the mundane), think visually, or need inspiration to overcome blocks.

This brings goblins and dragons to life.

Our white board story mapping exercise.

Goblinarium’s story mapping exercise on a white board.

Story mapping can use these elements:

Writing character. (And briefly outlining story structure and plot, through space and time.)

Visualizing a story map.  Anything from a simple scene diagram, to an epic fantasy world.  It relates to the spatial directing of storyboards- condensed into one world, one map. It shows the journey of a character. Many stories take the form of a journey.

Using the map to develop a cast, and how they link with a main character in the world. A writer can refer to a drawing, to plan how, where, when, and why a character is introduced. And invent new, creative links not easy to plan verbally. It can inspire new scenes and characters, with a cinematic sense. You can work from the beginning to the end, then re-shape it from the end back to the beginning by developing the world.


This can help a story write itself.  It makes backstory, which helps it breathe and excel. Detail and planning can insert in the background of what you see on the surface, and enrich it, so it makes a second viewing more rewarding than the first. That’s what a great story should do.

It’s easy to run away with world-building and neglect internal stuff. Focus on character. A whole cast can tie together this way. (What are their backgrounds and relationships?)

Here’s a list of their qualities to describe:

– Home and climate
– Community
– Family
– Age
– Role in society
– Job, hobby, and interests
– Favorite food
– Best friend
– School
– Where do they travel
– What would they pack for a trip?