How to Make a Story Map

Completely understanding and remembering what we have read can be hard at times. Even the most experienced reader often forgets important details from books or stories they’ve read; anything from characters, setting, problems/conflicts, or even entire plots! In this video, we will discuss one helpful tool called a “story map” and see how much it can elevate your reading experience.

Story maps come in many different forms, but they all have the same purpose, which is to record the elements of a story for future reference. Think of it as a way for you to put your thoughts down in writing using a visual aid so you don’t have to worry about forgetting them.

Before looking at an example of a story map, let’s first discuss the most important elements of a story, whether that be a short story, novel, or even a movie.

  1. Main Characters: Many stories have several characters. However, it is important to figure out which ones are the most important. You can do this by thinking about which characters are most involved in the story. There is almost always a protagonist and an antagonist. The protagonist is often portrayed as the “good guy” and the protagonist as the “bad guy”, but this isn’t always the case. The protagonist is really just the lead/main character of the story, and the antagonist is simply the opposing figure to the protagonist. Often, there are several protagonists and antagonists; other times there is a group of protagonists who face a single main antagonist and vice versa.
  2. Plot: What are the main events of the story? It is often useful to think in terms of beginning, middle, and end. A lot can happen in a story, so try to focus on the most important events.
  3. Setting: Where does the story mainly take place? Some stories take place in a single house, while others can span continents or even planets. Also, be sure to think about the time during which the story is set, as this can be a very important factor. New York City in 2020 is a much different setting than New York City in 1860.
  4. Problem/Conflict: Stories usually have several different problems (or conflicts) encountered by the protagonist. Some of these problems can be quite small when related to the overall story. For a basic story map, try to identify the biggest problem faced by the protagonist in the story.
  5. Solution: How does the protagonist solve or overcome the main problem/conflict?

Finally, it is important to remember that story maps come in all shapes and sizes. Some are very basic, while others can be quite detailed. For instance, you might also consider the categories of “Theme” or “Main Idea” when creating your own story map—these are more complex story elements. For this video, we’re focusing on basic story maps that only take into account the most important elements of the story.

Now let’s look at an example of a basic story map:

This map contains three boxes, one each for the Beginning, Middle, and End. To complete this map, you would need to fill in important details about the five elements previously discussed in each box.

It can be hard to figure out where the beginning ends and the middle begins or where the end begins and the middle ends! Here are some tips for figuring out what to include in each section:

Beginning: The beginning is usually where readers are introduced to the main characters of a story. A problem/conflict is introduced and a setting is also established. Remember that the setting can change throughout the story.

Middle: Here, the protagonist attempts to find a solution to the main problem of the story. This is where a lot of action takes place.

End: Here the problem/conflict has been solved. Consider how the protagonist has solved or overcome the main problem/conflict.

This type of simple map provides a basic structure for the plot of a story and is useful when picking out the most important elements of a story.
Here’s another example that is a little more complex:

In this map, instead of simply outlining the beginning, middle, and end, you section off the different specific elements of the story. So, if you needed to quickly recall the setting or couldn’t remember what the theme was, this is a great map to refer to.

You might be asking yourself what the point of a story map is. There are many reasons to create a story map, but today we’ll look at just a few of the most important ones:

  1. Increases Comprehension: Simply put, writing your ideas down will help you more easily understand (or comprehend) a story. Story mapping helps prevent you from forgetting the story because you don’t need to memorize everything—that’s the magic of writing down your thoughts for future use.
  2. Helps Identify Elements of a Story: Beyond understanding a story as a whole, a story map will help you fully understand the different elements—character, plot, setting, problem/conflict, solution, and more. When reading, we often don’t think of these as separate elements that are combined to create an effective story. By taking the time to map them out, each element becomes clearer.
  3. Works as a Useful Study Guide: This relates to the previous benefits of story mapping. Very often we are tested on the stories we’ve read. Without a tool like a story map, you might have to go back and re-read the entire story to refresh your memory. This can take up a lot of time. However, with a story map, you’ve made yourself a handy little study guide!

So, as you can see, story mapping is a useful way to create a visual guide that elevates your reading comprehension and helps you remember all of the most important information! Remember, there are many different types of story maps to choose from, so create the map that works best for you and your reading project!

That’s all for this review! Thanks for watching, and happy studying!


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by Mometrix Test Preparation | This Page Last Updated: July 18, 2022