Good morning star gazers and explorers. I hope you’ve had a good week.
This week I was feeling a little downhearted at times, so I took a look back at some of my old writing. It’s helpful to see how far I’ve come at times like this. As I looked back, I found an old fantasy story I’d written several years ago. It includes pages of my original notes and ideas and a map I drew of the world. As my more recent works have taken place in non-fictional, modern cities I’ve not had to do this for a while. But it got me thinking back to how much I enjoyed creating a map for my world, and so I want to blog about it.
In addition to some of my other world building blogs, I’m going to post a few tips and thoughts that helped me when I drew my map. I hope it’ll help others looking to do the same.
1. Look at other fantasy maps
Fantasy maps are not uncommon, and many fantasy novels include a printed map within the cover of their book. It can be really helpful to look at other fantasy/fictional maps to get an idea of what’s included and how it helps you to understand the world within the story. Some famous examples include maps from The Lord of the Rings and A Song of Ice and Fire. These can be found online and are great fun to explore and analyse.
2. Look at real maps
Fantasy maps are great because they show you how imagination allows you to push boundaries and create your own rules. However, real maps can be just as insightful when it comes to mapping out your fictional world. Real maps are available in abundance online, but it can be even more fun to pick out a physical map or atlas. Take a look at the scale used, the details and the way certain areas are represented. It can really give you a glimpse into how maps are made and why they show certain things but not others.
3. Consider your maps purpose
Does your map have a purpose in the story? It could be that simply, your map is for you. Your map is there so that you can write your characters’ adventures in a way that makes sense, and follows rules and guidelines. Or perhaps you’ve every intention to allow your readers a glimpse of the map too. Are your characters on a journey? Is it a map of their town/city, or of a strange and mysterious land? Your map might actually be a part of your story, with characters actively using it to find their way. In this case, you may find it even more important to consider intricate details.
4. Choose your materials
How do you plan to draw your map? I’m not much of an artist (I mean, not at all, I can’t even draw a stick man)! Despite this I still chose to put pen to paper to draw an outline of my world and get an idea of how it worked and where everything fit in relation to other places. Perhaps pen and paper is your preferred method. For those of you who are more artistic you may choose to sketch out a detailed map on a large sheet of paper, with colour and depth. Or perhaps you’r better suited to designing your map with online computer programs, taking the pressure away from drawing and allowing yourself to freedom move things around. Choose what works best for you.
5. Things to consider
These are just a couple more things to consider. For example you can draw a compass in the top corner of your map. This allows you to use accurate directions in your story, knowing where is north, where is south and which way travellers will need to go to reach their destination. Having a key can be a good way to mark information that won’t fit on the map itself or will make the map look untidy. And using place names that suit the location can add a real touch of personality to your map and your story.
Have you ever drawn a map for your world? What advice would you give?
I have two children’s fantasy stories in mind and if I ever get round to writing them I know I’ll need to draw up some maps, so your tips will be greatly appreciated! Comment below or message me any time.