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Firlefanz Profile
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Lady of the Land

Registered: 05-2003
Location: Germany
Posts: 6950
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Maps!


I've drawn maps before, but I don't use one for every story I write.

What do you think? Are they an essential ingredient of classic fantasy? Would you rather make your own imagined map when reading a story, or do you like tracing the journeys on a sketch of the land?

---
- Firlefanz

Reading: "Lirael" by Garth Nix
Writing: Rewrite of the Unicorn Girl YA novel

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Journeyman

Registered: 12-2005
Posts: 90
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Re: Maps!


In the story I'm writing right now I don't have a map. I'm not sure if I should add one or not. There is a journey by ship and I guess it could help the reader make sense.

My dream project will most likely have several very intricate maps as well as maps for cities and also one based on the geography.

---
Currently Writing: Daughter of Rage (YA fantasy)
Currently Reading: Winter's Heart by Robert Jordan
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Master

Registered: 12-2005
Location: Australia
Posts: 171
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Re: Maps!


Personally, if I pick up a "classic" (I won't define it for it might start a different debate emoticon) fantasy novel, I feel slightly odd if there is not a map within the first few pages.

I feel maps are very important in most (if not all) fantasy stories (of significant length).

As writers they help us in the planning of countries and their cultures, and they help us keep the travel times and directions relatively consistent. Even a very simple map is better than none.

---
Sentio aliquos togatos contra me conspirare.

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Journeyman

Registered: 12-2005
Posts: 90
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Re: Maps!


I'm not a very good artist when it comes to maps. If I were to be published and wanted a map would the publishers find someone to make my map presentable to the readers?

---
Currently Writing: Daughter of Rage (YA fantasy)
Currently Reading: Winter's Heart by Robert Jordan
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Grand Master

Registered: 12-2003
Posts: 300
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Re: Maps!


I love having maps, but I can understand if someone does not wish to "crystalize" something that much. I can understand leaving things up to the imagination, if that's what the author wants. Still, I prefer them. They help me focus.
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David Meadows Profile
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Squire

Registered: 09-2003
Posts: 693
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Re: Maps!


I've probably read more fantasy books without maps than with, and when there hasn't been a map I can't ever remember wishing there was one. But when there is one I often find myself flipping to it to compare it with what's happening in the story.

I only draw a map (as a writer) if I need to remind myself how to get from A to B while avoiding C, and then I use the bare minimum of detail to tell me that. It's just for planning purposes. I don't think my readers should need a map to tell them how to get from A to B while avoiding C, because if I'm a good enough writer they will know without looking at a map. But I don't write fantasy on a "epic" scale, so geography is less important to me.



Last edited by David Meadows, 9/5/2006, 11:49 am


---
"You just found out your father's a regular guy. It could be worse. You could have learned that your mother's half demon."
Heroes #37 -- on line now!
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Initiate

Registered: 11-2005
Location: WI
Posts: 24
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Re: Maps!


For my saga I created a map, more so I make everything consistent than for anything else. I do plan on making it available, I mean, there's no harm on having one. If you don't need a map to read, then you don't have to use it, you know?

Besides hand drawing it, there are programs that allow you to create maps, even really fancy virtual maps. I just hand drew the sketch of the land, put it in photoshop, then created "stamps" to add in symbols and text and so forth. Took a while, but I like how it turned out.

---

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Knight of Honor

Registered: 11-2005
Posts: 1883
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Re: Maps!


I agree with David Meadows. I think that if the only time a writer NEEDS to publish a map is if he doesn't write the plot clearly enough to make it clear where the characters are going. And regardless of how pretty or accurate the map is, that's still bad writing. I've never read a story that I considered well-written and found myself thinking, "Boy, I wish he'd included a map with this!" Because a good writer paints the map using his words, and needs nothing more.

On the other hand, I can understand why a writer would want a map (or at least a sketch of a map) to refer to when he's writing. If drawing a map helps you keep all the details straight so you can "paint" those details into the story in words, then by all means, use one! It seems a helpful tool to me.

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  -- YAR!
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Shepherd

Registered: 03-2006
Posts: 2138
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Re: Maps!


I like maps to a point myself, no matter how good a writer is, there is no way you can in words describe as well as a map can visualize a world or continent or land to you.(This is due to a reader not possibly being able to put together such a complicated image in their mind themselves) Having said that, they are mostly useful for larger scale stories where understanding the true scale and meaning of certain events would make them useful.
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Grand Master

Registered: 01-2005
Location: Maryland, USA
Posts: 492
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Re: Maps!


I love maps! They are awesome!!!!

Ok, now that that is out of my system....
I'll try not to bias my opinion when it comes tofantasy maps (Oh, wait... bias, opinion...dang, too late)

I think maps in fantasy novels are great. I have never seen a map in a book and thought, "You know, that map really didn't need to be there." but I HAVE often read a book thinking "Gosh, I wish they had a map."

I do not see a map a sign of a lazy author at all. (I think the lack of a map is more a clue to the laziness of an author than the inclution of one) If the scope of the story is such that travel does not happen often, then there is no need for a map. If the MC stays in one city the entire length of the book or the same town, or the same mineshaft. The scale in those books is such that descriptions are sufficient.

The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe (I believe) did not have a map, but the places and travel it dealt with were all very symbolic and the exact location of each did not matter as much to the understanding of the story. The story-line went from earth to hell to heaven through the children's travels in Narnia.

However in an epic fantasy, or large scale story, I find that maps are generally necessary and if not strictly necessary, then very helpful. When the story contains several countries, a widely varied landscape, political intrigue, lots of travel, etc. then a map to organize all of that into on concise graphic is very useful.

The Lord of the Rings, Wheel of Time, Belgariad, etc. are all stories of large scope and I cannot imagine not having a map while reading any of those, if only to track the story's progress as Frodo and Sam get closer to Mordor, or as Rand magically leaps from one end of the continent to the other. The visual given by the maps in this case are essential in understanding. Sure Jordan could merely say "And Rand touched the portal stone and magically appeared 2000 miles to the West, in a land bordered by Tarabon in the South and Arad Domon in the North..." but how many people could keep all of it straight?

I wish all books had a map, even if it was just a town. For me it not only aids in the placing of events but it also adds to the flavor of the story itself. I would sooner get rid of cover art than a map.

If the universe is completely new, many people are going to wonder what it looks like. No matter how well described it is in the narrative, it will never be as clear as a graphic illustration.

Even Orson Scott Card in his Alvin Maker series includes a map of the United States, even though most people know what the United States looks like. He knew that the complex relationships between places would necesitate some type of graphical representation.

So, all that having been said. I think maps are a great way to aide the enjoyment of a book. And if nothing else they aide in the creation of the world and the writing of the novel. It will help the author keep things clear in their own mind

---
Writing: Eriadhin

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hadaad Profile
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NaNo Winner

Registered: 08-2005
Location: Edmonton, Alberta, Canada
Posts: 334
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Re: Maps!


I don't mind when a book has a map. I don't use them unless I get confused about where something is.

My cousin once told me that I needed to look at the map in the front of a book if I wanted to get the most out of my reading experience. I told him, "Dude, I'm nineteen years old. I've been reading since I was five. I think I know how to get the most out of my reading experience." Still, I looked at the map at the front of the book I was reading. I spent a lot of time looking at it. Nothing.

As a writer, I like having a map. Actually, I have ten or twelve copies of the same map, usually with lines drawn all over the place or certain places colour-coded with who's where when and all of that. Good tool as a writer. As a reader, I don't need 'em.

---
Reading: Don Quixote - Miguel de Cervantes
Writing: Resurrection edits
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Reythia Profile
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Knight of Honor

Registered: 11-2005
Posts: 1883
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Re: Maps!


quote:

hadaad wrote:
As a writer, I like having a map. ... As a reader, I don't need 'em.



Exactly, Hadaad. The only time I look at the map while reading is if I'm confused. And if I'm confusesd, then the author screwed up somewhere (and not in his map-drawing skills!). Sometimes after reading the book, I'll peer over the map out of curiosity, to see if my impression of the world matched the author's (or just because the map looks pretty), but I really don't see them as required. It doesn't bother me that it's there, and I don't blame the writer for throwing one in if he's already drawn it during the writing/planning stage, but they really don't impact me very much at all.

---
  -- YAR!
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NaNo Winner

Registered: 08-2005
Location: Edmonton, Alberta, Canada
Posts: 334
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Re: Maps!


I understand, though, thanks to my cousin, that there are people out there who REALLY LIKE MAPS. So if I ever publish my epic fantasy novel(s), I'll probably include the stupid map I made except I'll get someone who can draw to draw it.


---
Reading: Don Quixote - Miguel de Cervantes
Writing: Resurrection edits
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Shepherd

Registered: 03-2006
Posts: 2138
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Re: Maps!


I guess depending on person that maps are valued or not, I for one find them useful as it helps me keep context, I guess others don't really see things like that. emoticon In either case it doesn't seem like including one hurts anyone, so I suppose both demographics are easily pleased. emoticon
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Initiate

Registered: 12-2006
Posts: 21
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Re: Maps!


maps are nice to do but i dont really do them, though ive got a sudden idea now for my next story emoticon
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Aeronox Profile
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Initiate

Registered: 11-2005
Location: Melbourne, Australia
Posts: 1
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Re: Maps!


I enjoy making maps. I studied Cartography at university. So I make mine very detailed, very clear and I have made several styles (pseudo-realistic, topographic, and even slightly incorrect to match the culture's understanding of the world).

I cringe when I see a simple, cliche, or geographically nonsensical (for example, rivers flowing uphill) map. In those cases it would have been better had there been no map at all. Sometimes, as I browse through books at the bookstore, I first check for a map, and I can tell how Tolkien-like the story will be, based on geography and place names. I avoid those books. I also avoid ugly maps.

---
http://www.TheSecretArt.net - my Ian Irvine fansite
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Firlefanz Profile
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Lady of the Land

Registered: 05-2003
Location: Germany
Posts: 6950
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Re: Maps!


Hi aeronox, welcome aboard. (Would you mind posting a little intro in The Meeting Point?)

I quite agree, it's rather annoying to find maps that don't "work" geographically. I enjoy making maps myself, and that's one thing I pay attention to.

And I see your point in using maps to determine, whether a book might be fun to read or not. Not sure if I'd put down a book just because the map is ugly, though - but it might influence my decision to buy it.

---
- Firlefanz


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Pastor Rick Profile
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The Reeve

Registered: 07-2005
Location: Texas
Posts: 2463
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Re: Maps!


Maps keep things organized in a story and I love making them. Matter of fact, I am creating one now thinking I just might expand my story submission from the flash challenge (the story wants to grow)... Is this how it works? The idea just keeps expanding for some reason...

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Lady of the Land

Registered: 05-2003
Location: Germany
Posts: 6950
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Re: Maps!


That's exactly how it works. Sometimes, those stories simply want to burst out.

 emoticon

---
- Firlefanz


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The Reeve

Registered: 07-2005
Location: Texas
Posts: 2463
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Re: Maps!


I think maps are very important when several authors are using the same background setting. Without a map I just don't see how all the authors can present a consistent backdrop for their individual stories...

---

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Firlefanz Profile
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Lady of the Land

Registered: 05-2003
Location: Germany
Posts: 6950
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Re: Maps!


That's a very good point, and a new one. Thanks, Rick!

I've seen quite a number of anthologies that worked without a map, yet in the same "world". They did fine, but I think that a map would have enhanced the fun.

---
- Firlefanz

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Riane Profile
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Initiate

Registered: 04-2003
Location: Australia
Posts: 19
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Re: Maps!


I concur—as one who is working on a collaborative project at present, I know it's absolutely necessary for us to have a map to work by so that our descriptions of settings and locations are consistent.

And besides that, maps are just darn good fun (to create and to explore). emoticon

---
Reading: Burn Bright by Marianne de Pierres
My writing blog
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Knight of Honor

Registered: 11-2005
Posts: 1883
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Re: Maps!


quote:

Pastor Rick wrote:
I think maps are very important when several authors are using the same background setting. Without a map I just don't see how all the authors can present a consistent backdrop for their individual stories...



Now THAT I agree with. For planning purposes, it's essential.

And I'll even go so far as to admit that for a collection of shorter, connected stories that take place in different but related areas, a map might be handy to the reader. Since you don't have a connection in writing to draw the picture in words.

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  -- YAR!
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Riane Profile
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Initiate

Registered: 04-2003
Location: Australia
Posts: 19
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Re: Maps!


This may well have been discussed already—I apologise if it has—but I'm curious: how many people have ever created city maps for a fantasy story/novel?

Up until a few months ago I'd only ever concentrated on kingdom and continent level maps, but I decided to have a go at it for my current project. It took a while to perfect the technique (a conglomeration of a few maps I'd looked at), and it meant far too much use of a 0.1mm fineliner, but I must say I loved the end result. I haven't actually had a chance to start adding in the labels, but even without them I'm pretty happy with it.

The best fun one can have without actually being a cartographer. ^_^

---
Reading: Burn Bright by Marianne de Pierres
My writing blog
The Fantasy Writers' Library
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The Reeve

Registered: 07-2005
Location: Texas
Posts: 2463
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Re: Maps!


I have created more than a hundred city/town/village maps for different role-play games in the past. Populating the places with "people of interest" for the storyline/adventure has always taken longer than I estimate when I start out doing that.

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Knight of Honor

Registered: 11-2005
Posts: 1883
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Re: Maps!


quote:

Riane wrote:
how many people have ever created city maps for a fantasy story/novel?



Eh. Well, sort of, but only in a vague hand-wavey way. You know, like "the main meeting area is on the same street as such-and-such character's house". I've sort of sketched out circle-plots: circles with place labels that are connected to other circles with place labels. That's about it. (Actually, that's all I've ever done with country-sized maps, too!)

Usually, it's not that important to know where the butcher's shop is in relation to the graveyard, except maybe in terms of how long it takes to walk there. I have seen exceptions to that rule, though, where relative locations are important to the plot. I've never written a story where that's true, however.

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  -- YAR!
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Loud G Profile
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Grand Master

Registered: 01-2005
Location: Maryland, USA
Posts: 492
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Re: Maps!


I have made numerous city maps in the past. Many of these helped inform a plot point or sub-plot point during their creation. That is to say, in the drawing of the map, little idiosyncracies that I drew would spark an idea for plot or even character. These would be absorbed into the story.

This happens a lot to me, working on the world or setting will change/ add to the plot.

My story writing begins with setting. Setting informs history and myth. History and myth inform plot and character.

I basically write for the setting, the character is merely a vessel to explore and/or show off the world. I find that the characters are much richer this way because they are actual products of their environment just like in real life emoticon

---
Writing: Eriadhin

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The Reeve

Registered: 07-2005
Location: Texas
Posts: 2463
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Re: Maps!


In our world we have 235 countries and other entities that are mostly self governing.

How many countries, duchies, earldoms, marches and baronies should a good fantasy world have?

---

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Knight of Honor

Registered: 11-2005
Posts: 1883
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Re: Maps!


quote:

Pastor Rick wrote:
In our world we have 235 countries and other entities that are mostly self governing.


How can any reader possibly keep track of that many? Shoot. How can any WRITER really keep track of that enough to give each country its own "personality"?

quote:

How many countries, duchies, earldoms, marches and baronies should a good fantasy world have?


The previous answer suggests my answer to this one. The maximum number of individual nations (etc) should be no more than the average reader can keep track of. Off-hand, I'd put that at no more than a dozen or so that are actually mentioned in the story. Any more might be fascinating to the writer, but frustrating to the reader. It won't end well.

---
  -- YAR!
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Loud G Profile
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Grand Master

Registered: 01-2005
Location: Maryland, USA
Posts: 492
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Re: Maps!


In fantasy and older civilizations, where travel is limited to horse or boat, you may not KNOW about every country/tribe that exists. So it is very easy to believe that the 5 or 12 countries you show in a story/book only represent the known world or only a small percentage of the whole of humanity.

For all of our technological advances we still have Americans that think Africa is a country... (grrrr)

If there is a large separation via ocean, mountains, etc. the cultures may not ever interact. Other than a mention that, "we heard stories beyond the rim of strange races" which may or may not get included in the story.

---
Writing: Eriadhin

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