Before I begin developing my characters, I either draw or take photographs and make maps of where my main characters live. I want to be able to see where they are while I write, and what the areas look like should I want to use location description in my stories. This exercise pleases my artistic muse while I begin to build my storyline—a.k.a. plot.
Many of my stories happen in a fictional community called Ridgewood, of which I have drawn extensive maps of the place and houses for my characters to live in. I include interiors and exteriors of major places, and pencil in furniture placement and notes about wall hangings and knickknacks and what books are inside bookcases (if important). I also list what color the walls are, or if they’re wallpapered and what pattern they are. Some floors are carpeted, others are bare wood with throw rugs.
Informative maps also let me know where my characters are, what they’re doing, and importantly—what they see at the moment I write about them. Whenever someone rearranges a room or adds something new, it goes onto my map inside my notebook.