This is something I would like to do!


An ongoing trend for fiction and fantasy novels is having a map for the reader to follow along with, just after the title page in the book. It is also very helpful for the author and the development of their fictional world.

When I first started writing my young adult fantasy novel, MER, I was like “A map seems way too difficult.” But I REALLY wanted one. And despite my inhibitions, I dove in head first. Hell or high-water I was going to have a map for my book, even if it meant handing my two-year-old a paper and crayons, and calling the scribbles my map. (Hey that’s not such a bead idea! Hahaha!)

I’m going to talk a little about my experience with creating my map for MER, soon to be released in late December, along with other methods of either creating or obtaining your map. And don’t…

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  1. I’ll be the first to say, when I write a fantasy novel outside the real world? I always, always, always draw a map. If only a sketch. If only to say “This city here. This mountain rang here. This ocean here.” So much easier to keep things straight, especially since those novels tend to grow and change and expand into other areas of the map.

    • I was so far into my novel by the time I realized I should have made a map from the very beginning. Now I have been having to go back and reread everything because the locations are confused and I cannot track my characters! Someone suggested that I document everything by using powerpoint slides, which has helped. Now that I have some notes to go on it is much easier to create a map before I get even more lost.

      • I did the exact same thing when I wrote my first fantasy. I realized I had 36 main characters and nine continents. I had to put it all into perspective, on paper, just to keep myself from going crazy. Then I split it into seven books. It had to be done.

        What I also found helps is a big, blank wall. I have a lineup of characters on a cork board, my map directly behind my computer screen, and printed pictures of important themes/tools. Love it.

  2. It’s worth looking at the experience of Terry Pratchett’s ‘Discworld’ series. He was well into the series, operating on the vague geography in his head, when someone in his enormously growing fan base (who was of just the right attention-to-detail nature) assembled all the clues of 12 or more books and created the first Discworld map. Lots of ‘inconsistencies’ among the novels were revealed, which Terry was happily sanguine about, but he has delighted since in being able to keep the books ‘true’ to each other. And therein lies your biggest benefit – the more your reader feels like this world is a ‘whole place’, the more they’ll engage with it. There has to be room for their imagination to play, but a consistent reliable structure makes that easier.

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