Thursday, July 21, 2011

I Need a Map

For someone who has a ridiculously excellent sense of direction - I hardly ever get lost, I can 'see' the layout of new cities I visit after a couple of hours roaming and I wish the career of map-maker were more lucrative - I'm having a lot of trouble mapping my world.

BookEnd has a specific geography. Things it needs in certain places. The River, the Rish Sea, and places like RiverTown, Idyllia and Finis Terra City all need to interconnect the right way.

Don't get me the wrong. I routinely ignore the maps at the beginning of books, be it Lord of the Rings or The Princess Bride. I'm not that kind of reader. I'm good at suspending disbelief. If you tell me the hanging tree is north by northwest of the sacred rock, I'm like, whatever, when's the hanging and how is the heroine going to escape?

But while revising I keep hitting the 'where am I?' wall. I'm imagining two people by the North Pasture and I can't figure out if they look left or right towards the river. That's bad. So, to rectify that, I tried to draw a map. People, I have a masters degree in Fine Art. How come I can't do this?

Nothing looks right. It's more frustrating right now than correcting typos. Not sure if I'm concentrating on it as a distraction from revising, if it's imperative to sort out now, or both. So, anyone have any map-making ideas or resources?

Oh and some nice news. I was selected as a finalist for the GUTGAA Blogfest Query Contest. Nice! Thanks Deana and Lora.


  1. Congrats on making the finals.

    You need to be prepared for all those people out there who don't think a book is worth reading unless it has a map and appendix.

    Good luck!

  2. Tee hee. I'm geographically challenged and so are my characters. Poor people just look around vaguely asking where the hell are they. :P

  3. Congratulations on being a finalist!

    I've never tried making a map for a story. For my current SF WIP, I just write down the planets and their respective cities so I know which ones go where. Maybe if you looked at a printed or electronic map, and used it as a basis for your own, just to get a sense of scale and how you'd want it to look?

  4. There are map-making programs out there, I just can't think of any right now.
    I can do a map (I also have an art degree) but I have no sense of direction, so you have me beat there.

  5. Oh, man. Drawing maps is not my thing. Stick figures are hard for me. Your best luck is a great program, or you could find a good artist who can translate what you're seeing in your head on to the page.

  6. Thanks for stopping by earlier! Congrats to you, too!

    I love maps. One of my current WIPs is an MG fantasy, and my 9 yo son drew a really awesome map of my fantasy world. It was awesome!

  7. I am so bad with directions! Once, after a few days roaming in Amsterdam I turned triumphantly to my sister and said "I recognise this street!" "Yeah," she told me, "we're standing in front of our hotel."

    I have drawn maps for writing before, but I never stick to them anyway.

  8. hey guys - thanks for all the good map-creation ideas. I think I need to check out the map making programs Alex and Emily mentioned.
    @Jen - hilarious! that happens to my husband all the time. He'll go into a store, then come out again and say "now which way were we going?" that NEVER happens to me!

    When/if I come up with a good map, I'll post it here and you guys can chime in on if it makes sense or is ridiculous.

  9. Oh my gosh, I would loooove to see your map when you finish it. During my high fantasy phase, one of my favorite things to do before I started a book was to spend a long, long, long time studying the map and dreaming up all the fun things that might happen in each spot. By the time I finally met the towns during the book, I already felt like we were good friends! :)

  10. @lisaAnne - that's a really good point. Maps can get the reader in your world before they get to the first word of the story. I've been thinking about this all weekend and have some ideas. So thanks again everyone for the input!


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