Wednesday, October 19, 2011
Maps and World Building
Lately, when I'm not busy with regular life, or revising The Crystal Sword, I've been world-building, and map-making for my next novel, On One Wing.
My amazing, enthusiastic, and highly knowledgeable teen Creative Writers' Club class at the homeschool co-op we attend, has pushed me to re-think my map-making and world building. I really didn't do a very good job of either before I started The Crystal Sword, and I now regret it.
There is a benefit of map-making if you are writing a fantasy novel that is set in a pre-industrial world with old world transportaion abilities. To get anywhere, my characters have to take a boat, a horse, a sea serpent, or a griffin, and the sea serpents aren't friendly. The roads are rough, and the forests can be dense. Weather patterns matter when my characters are slogging along outside trying to get from point A to point B in the story.
I thought I had a pretty good map of my character's country in The Crystal Sword, but it didn't really have enough information on it - like topography, or waterways, or blown up maps of Skycliff (the main city featured in the story). I had a pretty good handle on the underground section of the city where the characters' escape from the onslaught of war, but when they try to return over sea and land, I don't have those maps figured out well enough. It's taken me some time to fix.
So yesterday I mapped out my the area my main characters in One One Wing will be traversing three times, and I'm still not satisfied. I need more of an understanding of the topography, and the weather patterns and how it will affect their journey.
The interesting thing is that even though I don't draw all that well, I enjoy map making in the writing process, or pouring over real world maps to understand key locations for a story.
Have you ever considered making maps in the world building process for your writing?
Even for non-fiction, or fiction set in the "real" world, I think that maps can come in handy. In a book I recently read where the characters stopped in Portland . . . the author didn't know the downtown area that well, and mistakenly thought the biggest and best place for books was the library. He obviously didn't know about Powells. Oops. (BTW more info about Powells can be found at my post Biggest Bookstore in the World, or at the Powells' website )
So, Maps Anyone?