Tag Archives: maps

Maps in Fantasy Novels

A lot of you are fantasy fans, I’m pretty sure. In most fantasy novels, there are maps. They could be world maps or regional maps, and even city maps sometimes. I enjoy looking at the maps a lot. I’ve also made my own maps for my world, Ariadne.

I have questions for you to answer in the comments section.

  1. Do you like maps in fantasy novels?
  2. How often do you look at the maps?
  3. What’s your favourite fantasy map?
  4. Do you think science fiction novels set on other planets should have maps?

My answers:

  1. Yes, I love them!
  2. Any time a place is mentioned, I like to look at the map and figure out where they are.
  3. Too many to tell, really. I like the maps used in Malazan, Lord of the Rings, Shannara, and A Song of Ice and Fire. But there are more!
  4. Absolutely. I really enjoy the maps in the Pern series, The Mars Trilogy, and Dune.

I look forward to your answers.

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How to Resume Writing After a Hiatus

One of these days, I’m going to get back to writing. As I’ve mentioned before, I don’t have any privacy to be able to do any serious writing at the moment. But, I will. To prepare, I need to do a few things.

Have a place

When the room in the basement is ready for me to put my computer on the desk and a chair to sit on, I’ll be there! Once it’s all ready, I can start writing.

Re-read what I’ve written

I need to get myself back into my world. I have to completely reacquaint myself with the story. Actually, I don’t need to do that, since I know it by heart. However, by reading, I get my mind back into it, and I can rediscover the feeling.

Prepare my maps

I have a lot of maps. By going over the maps, I can explore my world again and live there in my mind. There’s still a lot to develop.

Notes, notes, notes

I need to review my notes and write more notes. I need to write notes on all the characters, all the places, all the story lines, everything.

Update my author website

I need to add some content to my author website. In particular, I want to get the Ariadne Encyclopedia started. It’ll be my online reference guide for the world. I plan to have character profiles, country profiles, and star system information available.

Write and edit

I actually have several parts written but not up on the website yet. However, I need to get them critiqued and edit them. I also need to write my novel, not just Journey to Ariadne.

Keep everyone updated

I want to keep my readers updated in several ways. One is, through this blog. Another is on YouTube. Another is through my Facebook page. And the other big one is Twitter. Eventually, once I have a Goodreads author page, I’ll be updating that, too.

There’s a lot to do, but I’ll get it done. If you write, what do you do to prepare? Let me know in the comments below.

Epic Journey Fantasy Novels

When I was in junior high school, I read The Hobbit, and I was absolutely fascinated by the map. The map aided in the journey that Bilbo went through, and it made it quite exciting. I kept thinking about all the places I would be able to see through the eyes of the characters. That is when epic journeys became one of the biggest reasons I fell in love with fantasy.

Since then, I’ve read many fantasy novels with maps, such as Terry Brooks’ Shannara series, Robert Jordan’s The Wheel of Time, and the rest of J. R. R. Tolkien’s books, The Lord of the Rings. Some others, such as Terry Pratchett’s Discworld novels didn’t really do much in the way of travel, opting to stay put in many of them.

What are some great epic journey fantasy novels you’ve read and would recommend? Maps are essential! Let me know in the comments.

Natural Talent

Is there something that you just seem to have a knack for? Something you don’t have to concentrate on very hard to do well? Or is it more than one thing?

Ever since I was young, I’ve always been very good with maps. Geography was something I enjoyed a lot, and would capture my attention all the time. Any map was fine. Got a map of Delaware? I’d go over it and study it. In fact, I have a map of Delaware in my mind right now.  I know have a map of the United States in my mind with the location of Delaware, which is next to Maryland. It’s pretty small. You might miss it.

It’s not just country maps, but also local maps. If I drive or walk somewhere, my mind creates a map. If I’ve already seen a map of the area, it’s much easier. But when I combine looking at a map and exploring the area on foot, I completely memorise the area. I only need to do it once. Any time I go to that area, the map pops up in my mind, and I have an bird’s eye view of the area. I know exactly where I am and where to go.

I have no idea why I can do this. I seem to know where everything is. If I want to think about which direction something is, my mind calls up a map of the area, and I immediately know which way it is. It’s kind of strange, isn’t it?

But that’s not all.  I’m also very good at spelling.  But you may have noticed that I tend to use the British spelling, which is more common in Canada.

What about you? What’s your natural talent?

Planning, Planning, Writing, and Planning

Sometimes it feels like I do nothing but plan.  Of course, planning is important.  No plan? No direction.

I just updated my official website with the March progress report on my writing.  One thing I touched upon is how I’m doing character and country profiles, which I have talked about before.  I downloaded Gimp 2, which I’ll be using to work on the maps of Ariadne.  Once I’ve got them going, I’ll be posting country profiles, though physical geography only.  No need to publish spoilers.

The writing part comes from time to time, depending on how awake I am and if I’m alone.  I can’t write with people trying to talk to me all the time, so my writing time is quite limited.  I’m failing my New Year’s resolution to write fifteen minutes a day.  I need to redouble my efforts.

Wish me luck.

World-Building: Mapmaking

Here’s where the fun starts with your world.  I assume you’ve chosen the type of world to create, whether it’s Earth-like, a waterworld, or a dry world.  All of these need a map.  This section is more important for fantasy worlds, though it is quite useful for science fiction worlds if you’re creating a whole world.

Making a Basic Physical Map

To start off, a simple map will do.  Make the continents first.  But don’t just make them blobs.  They need intricate coastlines.  The more complex, the more realistic.  Look at a map of Earth.  Take a look at coastal regions and you’ll see that they’re not straight lines.  They’re not curves.  They’re very organic looking with lots of inlets and peninsulas.  That’s what you want to draw.

Moraine_Lake_17092005

What you need to do next is add the mountain ranges, lakes, and rivers.  Keep in mind that large mountain ranges form continental divides.  The rivers should flow from the mountains, not cut through an entire mountain range from one side to the other.  Mountains aren’t random, either.  What is useful is to create a map showing the tectonic plates, and show the direction of movement of each plate. This will allow you to determine where the mountain ranges go, as well as pinpoint the seismically active regions.  You can indicate where volcanoes are in this step, as well as the mountains.

A Fantasy Reader has an index of maps that shows a long list of fantasy novel maps.  Definitely worth going through for some ideas about style.  The style is up to you.  The easiest is to use a bunch of triangles for the mountains.  Even the best did it.

The map gives you a lot of possibilities for stories, especially if you’re writing a long series.  It also gives you an image of what the world is like.  It’s a very powerful tool.  I love looking at maps in fantasy novels.  I love making them, too.

What I Did

For Ariadne, I did just what I said above.  However, I drew the tectonic plates map after I drew the mountains.  I just imagined how they would be arranged with the mountains already drawn.  But this gave me the idea of where to put the volcanoes and which areas are prone to earthquakes.  I also included some hotspot volcanoes, similar to Hawaii.

Ariadne map editing

I’ve posted the above image before, and this is my work in progress, the map of Ariadne I’m digitizing.  Whether you do the map on paper or computer is up to you.  I prefer doing it on paper.

My map contains four continents and two major oceans with some large bays.  There are also ice caps, but I’ll talk about this on a later mapmaking topic when we deal with climate and ecosystems.  To read more about Ariadne’s mapmaking process, please check out this post.

Christmas Blog Present 6: a Fantasy Reader

This one has a little extra something.

afantasyreader

#6 a Fantasy Reader

Run by Phil from Quebec in Canada, a Fantasy Reader has something a little extra for fantasy lovers.  That is maps.  He includes a lot of maps, which I personally find fascinating.

The reviews are pretty detailed, including comments about the cover art and whether there are maps or not.  The rating system is based on a 5 star scale, and he rates 5 separate aspects, as well as an overall rating.  Seems pretty detailed to me!

For his most recent review, check out The Broken Isles.