For a lot of people, plotting a story is an incredibly tedious task.  But did you know that with a little creativity and imagination, plotting out a story can be virtually painless?  In fact, if you give it a chance, you may even start to enjoy it.

Let’s face it.  We’re living in a virtual world.  For everything we do, well, ‘there’s an app for that!’  So why should planning a story be any different?  We’ve looked at mind-mapping software called Freeplane, which was great for connecting all of your ideas, but sometimes sequencing each and every event of a story in text format just doesn’t cut it.  This is where Google earth comes in!

Google Earth is a free program that anyone can download and install on their computer.  It includes all sorts of tools to plan a trip, check out foreign cities, and all sorts of nifty other features that would easily give your grandparents the willies.  But how does this relate to plotting a story?  Check this out:

Google Earth snapshotLet’s say that you’ve just installed Google Earth onto your computer.  It will look something like the above image.  Now, zoom in to your desired city, town, or rural area.  It can be anywhere in the world!  It’s your story, so why can’t you have a city that mysteriously resembles Athens, Greece, smack-dab in the middle of the United States?  Go wild and have fun with it.

 

In this example, I’ve chosen to use Chicago as our story’s hometown.  I don’t have much knowledge regarding Chicago’s best areas, so I just picked one that appealed to me at the time.  Below you’ll see my characters’ neighbourhood, which has been decorated with all sorts of different icons, called placemarks.  Using these, you’ll never forget where your characters live, what happened where or to whom, with the added benefit of having a detailed map of your characters’ surroundings.  This will enable you to write better, more consistent descriptions of your world and nearly obliterate the possibility of describing something incorrectly later on in the story.  In turn, you’ll be able to make your writing seem more real to your readers, because everyone knows that a reader will notice any errors that you miss.  It’s common knowledge.

Google Earth snapshot2 image

The best part is that this software is easy to install and use.  Just do a simple search in your favourite browser and you’ll be ready to go in no time.

Want to add something to this article or tell us about your experiences using this program?  Write it down and send it to:  submissions@imagine.csob.me

Published November 1, 2011

Leave a Reply

Marked fields are required: *