There is no simpler way to start a narrative than to have a character discover a mysterious map; after all, who wouldn’t be curious?

Maps are great for narrative as they provide a simple plot concept structure… you gotta find something with the map. Characters go on an adventure based on the clues–or lack thereof–provided by the map.

Have a look on this page to see if you can use a map somewhere in your narrative to confound or convenience your characters. Enjoy!


  • map, guide, atlas, chart,
  • diagram, schematic, blueprint, plan, layout,
  • drawing, sketch, rough, draft, print, scribble, scrawl,
  • plan, plot, flow chart,
  • military map, battlefield plan, tactical map, military simulation board,
  • scroll, tapestry,
  • coded, cryptic, encrypted, symbolic,
  • map embedded through symbolism in tattoo, painting, novel, book, story, will,
  • secret map, hidden map, disguised map,
  • original, copy, facsimile, forgery, imitation, red herring, fake,
  • treasure map, pirate map, X marks the spot, gold mine location, secret hideout,
  • travel guide, tourist directory, best hotels, top ten places, wonders of the world,
  • road map, city map, highway map,
  • atlas, globe,
  • GPS, nav system, Google map,
  • touchscreen mall directory, highrise apartment suite guide,
  • star map, sky map, constellation map,
  • star system guide, intergalactic map, map of space, map of the universe,
  • trail map, mine diagram, tunnel schematic,
  • dungeon layout (with or without secret doors),
  • Stan’s Guide to the Underworld,
  • tree fort sketch,
  • blueprint of an impenetrable starbase…

Elements of Maps

  • legend, key, guide, symbols, compass, scale, color coding, decryption key,
  • line, colored line, mark,
  • an “x”, target, destination,
  • route, path, road, street,
  • directions, notes, italics, bold print, steps, plan, order, itinerary, schedule,
  • place names, titles,
  • points, marks, way points, stops,
  • land features, terrain, bodies of water, forests, mountains,
  • water, coast, river, pond, lake, stream,
  • obstructions, barriers, canyon, edge, wall, fortification,
  • warning, caution, danger, enemies, zombies, tolls,
  • ratings, rankings, recommendations, judgments, opinions, warnings, star-rating,

Maps could be…

  • written in code, invisible ink, magic script, poisonous ink,
  • divided into parts and spread around the kingdom, world, city, house, organization, guild, secret society,
  • embedded secretly in a manuscript, book, series of books, a painting, sculpture, fresco, TV advertisements, billboards, street signs,
  • old, brittle, dusty, dirty, smudged, obscured, cracked, filthy, moldy, wet, burnt, singed, torn,
  • in a safe, vault, safe deposit box, trapped chest, bus station locker, lock box, grave, coffin, tomb, dragon’s lair, hermit’s house,
  • guarded by a monster,
  • a series of steps that need to be taken,
  • stolen, illegal, banned, prohibited, blasphemous, heretical,
  • dubious, suspect, incoherent, incomplete,
  • in another language,
  • carved in stone, burnt into a wooden tablet, etched into an ivory tusk, inlaid in the inside of a wooden box cover,
  • revealed through the smoke of a special cigar, shared through a vision ritual, spiritually guided,
  • cursed, blessed, ordained, tainted by a demon, possessed, ominous, spiritually costly,

A Map could lead to…

  • treasure, riches, fortune, a hoard, money, bags o’ cash, treasure chest,
  • ancient kingdom, lost planet, legendary city, disappeared city-state, empire of the future, domain in peril, parallel universe,
  • the answer, an answer, more questions, a solution, another clue,
  • stolen goods, the stash, drugs,
  • something strange, another map, an oddity, a paradox,
  • a base, hide out, gangsta crib, lair, rebel enclave,
  • heaven, hell, the afterworld, the outerworlds,
  • a new star system, wormhole, rift, universal fey lines, folds, blackhole, whitehole,
  • an office, business, shop, store, sale, yard sale, gypsy camp,
  • vacation spot, the resort, the spa, the club, campground,
  • a tower, a castle, a villa,
  • a dead end road, red herring, the wrong path,
  • a short cut, the scenic route, a safer path,
  • ancient burial ground, an old cemetery,
  • a route traveled by ancients, by ancestors, by gods,
  • missing persons, abductee,
  • a wonder of the world, archaeological discovery, paleontological discovery,
  • a holy site, a religious relic, sacred ground, spiritual place, fountain of youth, holy grail, a fabled monastery,
  • a new world, home, life, start, birth, awakening, chance, (this is an esoteric notion that could be an overarching concept of your narrative)
  • monster’s lair, goblin hideout, dwarf kingdom,
  • a retreat, a lonely hotel, an unadvertised bed and breakfast, a haunted house, a manor,
  • a mountain pass, a way through, an archipelago,

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