A story is a tale of events. From an analysis point of view a story presents the answers to many "W"-questions:

The possible sources of a story are very diverse. A story could be derived from a book, a movie, a theater play, a musical or from real life by conducting a series of interviews on people.

For example in a series of police interviews, conducted in the context of a criminal offence, the answers to the what, where, when and who questions present the facts in the case. Answers to the why questions present the motive. Following these results in an interactive presentation of (a series of) these police interview stories will help in creating profiles of criminal cases and profiles of criminal offenders.

As another example, when interviewing someone with an autistic spectrum disorder the answers to the what, where, when and who questions give some impression on that person's view of the world. Answers to the why questions may give some understanding in how that view is organized. An interactive walkthrough of the model results will make translation of that person's perception to your world and back more easy.

Story analysis

Story analysis is a method of answering a large number of the "W-questions" above, saving the results, and presenting the results in an interactive manner.

The story analysis model(s) discussed on this site have the following common characteristics:

  1. The story unfolds as a series of events. An event tells us what happened.
  2. Each event can uniquely be identified by a time (when) and a location (where).
    One way of viewing these events is by showing them in a matrix. All events in the same row of the matrix happen (more or less) at the same time, but at different locations. All events in the same column of the matrix happen (more or less) at the same location, but at different times.

    The example above shows an event matrix for the Resident Evil movie series episodes 1-5.
    Time is on the vertical axis, Locations are on the horizontal axis.
  3. Various layers of information can be placed on top of the event(time,location) matrix. Typical layers used in the models discussed here are:
  4. The concept of granulation levels.
    All elements of the model can be viewed at different level of detail (granulation).

    As an example, the event "World War II" corresponds with time 1940-1945 and location "(almost) the entire world". In this example the level of detail is very low.
    When zooming in the level of detail (granularization) is raised. In the above example, we may distinguish details like D-Day and Operation Marketgarden for events, or Omaha beach, Nijmegen bridge and Hiroshima for locations.

  5. Answers to the "Why" questions typically are located in the association between events and the layers on top of the event matrix.

    For example, each single event can be associated with zero or more characters from a character layer on top. Each of these associations can contain an answer to "Why does Mr. X participate in this event?"


This section presents an overview of different story analysis models, some more advanced than others.
Overview of story analysis models
ModelDescription CharacteristicsExamples
Streetview presentation Not really a story model, but an enhancement of the story by adding presentations in the form of walks / rides along story locations based on Google streetview. N.a. Youtube inferno channel.
V 1.0 Initial version of a story analysis model.
Both the composer / editor and the presentation generator are implemented in a single spreadsheet application.
Support story episodesYes
Event(time, location) matrix Yes
Layers on top of the event matrix
  • Characters
  • Media files
Answers to Why questions In the descriptive text of events, characters and locations.
Presentation Static: pdf files generated by the application
Resident Evil V 1.0 movie series