Lesson Two- Mapping the Mechanics of a Story

Maps: Mechanics of Your Story

Objective: Students will learn and outline what makes a story complete.

Materials needed:

  • For explorations – Story map examples: Hero’s Journey, Plot Roller Coaster, Story Fish. Fantasy map examples.
  • For expansions – large sketch paper, blank story fish diagram, crayons, markers, macaroni,


The focus of the lesson is to explore the essential parts of what makes a story complete. Every story needs a beginning, middle and end. Every story needs a hook, rising action that builds up to a climax, and a resolution at the end. Sometimes it helps to have an outline, to make sure that all the key points are being hit and that the pace of the story isn’t rushed.

2.  Exploration

Students will learn about the basic plot structure of every story, and the mechanics involved in writing a complete story with a beginning, middle and end. They will plot out their own stories to make sure all of those necessary elements are there.

The second half of the class will be devoted to making fantasy maps of their own alien planets. Students will be instructed on legends, scale, compasses, etc.

3.  Expansion

Students will be shown various story maps, including the Hero’s Journey, The Plot Rollercoaster, and Jeff Vandermeer’s Story Fish, found in his Wonderbook. Key terms will be defined, and the students will be given a blank diagram in order to fill in the necessary parts of their own story. For this part, I decided to use the Story Fish, because I really like the addition of complications, which are not found on the plot roller coaster.

After they have plotted their stories, the focus will switch to mapping their own alien planets with a fantasy map. They will be shown famous examples of maps and list some of the key things found on them—cities, mountains, lakes, etc, just as there are certain elements to mapping a successful plot. They will also learn about making a map legend, scale, and compass for their alien world. Perhaps their planet doesn’t have magnetic fields and they will need to design a different sort of compass that will work in the absence of magnets.

 4.  Evaluation

Students will demonstrate what they have learned, by beginning their stories, using the outlines and the detailed maps they have just created. They will be able to use anything they have from the last session, but the idea is to slow the story down and make sure that all the important parts are there to make it complete.

Some diagrams– I’m not an artist, but feel free to borrow.





*The Story Fish in Jeff Vandermeer’s book is way cooler.