To map or not to map? That is the question.

Actually it’s not a question at all – I am mapping in my book. I don’t understand fantasy books without maps; it’s never made sense to me. You (the author) have created a whole new world with mountain ranges and deserts and peninsulas and oceans… give me a visual on what the landscape looks like! Let me get an idea of the surrounding environment of the village our hero(es) starts in. Or the great city that is their home.

I dig all that.

A map of Thedas from the DragonAge games (mine own map isn’t this pretty – yet)

In fact it is one of the first things I do when I world build. Once I know who main character is and have a sense of what they will go though and know where they will end up (the beginning and ending are always clear for me, the middle bits are more discovery) then I have to know where they are. What is the stage they are on? The environment that surrounds them?

Creating the landscape and the shape of their world leads into its back story, its history. The rise and fall of empires and kingdoms; wars and conquests and cultures. All of this is vital for my process. Story is important, the characters, their tale and its execution, of course. But the story of the land, the world around them is of equal import – even it if its true depth is never delved in the tale I am setting to paper (or word doc as the case may be/is).

But everybody is different and a story should definitely be able to stand on its own without a map. Flipping to the front pages of a novel whenever a new kingdom or city is mentioned is something I enjoy but other readers (and authors) can’t be bothered with. Horses for courses.

But I love me a good map 🙂

2 Responses

  1. I love fantasy maps like crazy! And I get seriously disappointed with fantasy books without maps or with really poor ones. I think that since we're talking about a new unknown world (for the reader), a map helps a great deal in helping make the setting realistic and loveable. But on the other hand, maybe that's just me… a guy who has a separate folder in his computer full of fantasy maps categorized by type…! :p

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