1. WriterDude
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    WriterDude Contributing Member Contributor

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    Fantasy stories - using maps vs blind exploration?

    Discussion in 'Fantasy' started by WriterDude, Aug 16, 2011.

    I'm actually writing a steampunk story, but nevermind that. I have done a lot of research and background stuff on the story I'm ready to write, including creating a detailed map over a part of the world my characters will be exploring. But now that I'm about to write it, I have simple question: Should I include the map in the book?

    I think making a map is essential for fantasy worlds as it allows us to stay consistant and remember every small detail of the world. If a cave was north-east of a forest early in the story, it shouldn't be north-west of the forest later and so on. But will revealing a map in the beginning of the book spoil the exploration? Let's say my characters are walking through a forest and finds themselves in a mysterious ghost town no one has heard about. Wouldn't it ruin the surprise if the town is on the map? But at the same time, how can we not have a map included? It's a fantasy world, so using a map makes it a lot easier for the reader to know what's going on and where the characters are.

    Any thoughts?
     
  2. Raki
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    Raki Contributing Member

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    Maps are fine. Personally I believe the map at the beginning should match whatever map the characters may possess, so if no one knows the ghost town exists, it's not on the map. But I don't think it would be too spoiling to include such things on the map otherwise. At least for me as a reader, I find it's the journey and not the destination that I care about when I read a book. Knowing where the characters are going does not help them get there any more than it helps the reader envision the scenery.
     
  3. WriterDude
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    WriterDude Contributing Member Contributor

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    Thanks, I'll keep that in mind. I'm thinking I'll put the map in an appendix in the back, along with a beastary and stuff like that.
     
  4. psychotick
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    psychotick Contributing Member Contributor

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    Hi Writerdude,

    For my two fantasy novels I haven't included a map or a beastiary. Partly its simply that I didn't feel the need - I already had a map in my head and on paper and wrote according to it, and partly that I had no idea how to put it in a word document and hope that it translated to kindle format. But your post did give me an idea.

    One of the types of threads I often read is about how to market your ebooks, (for obvious self serving reasons). And one of the things they often suggest as a marketing tool is a website / blog. Now I'm a computer dunce when it comes to these things, but I managed a blog through Goodreads, and I have an author's page through Amazon, and it occurs to me that both these things, especially the beastiary (which I never thought of but which would be awesome), would be great things to put on them. (Especially if you can draw!).

    Now I just have to learn to draw!

    Cheers.
     
  5. WriterDude
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    WriterDude Contributing Member Contributor

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    Thanks for the tip about the Author's Page. But... um... where can I find it? :redface: I found my bookshelf and reports, but that's about it.

    I can't draw my way out of a paper bag, but I do know where to find people who can draw for you - for a price. I'm gonna try when the book is ready. ;)
     
  6. StrangerWithNoName
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    StrangerWithNoName Longobard duke

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    Maps are better to explore an undiscovered country and help the writer to avoid goofs.
     
  7. JSLCampbell
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    JSLCampbell Member

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    I don't know if this is any use to you but somebody posted this tutorial in a thread a while ago; I took it and made a spectacular concept map myself - http://www.cartographersguild.com/content.php?116-Ascensions-atlas-style-in-Photoshop&

    You'll need photoshop though, but actually a downloaded trial from adobe would work.


    Anyway, personally I think it could be a mistake to introduce a map right at the very start of a fantasy novel, but then it depends how your story works. For example, if the first few chapters of your novel take place only in one city, it makes everything beyond the city feel very mysterious. Characters may talk about the outside world but the reader can create no sure-fire concept of what "outside" is. Consequently, "outside" would feel infinitely big and exciting to the reader.

    Just something you might want to consider.
     
  8. WriterDude
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    WriterDude Contributing Member Contributor

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    Thanks. The question isn't how to make a map. I finished the map several days ago, in fact. The idea is that a part of the world is known and well-mapped, so that part of the world looks like a normal map. But there are also another part of the world currently unexplored (or so the MCs thought, until they found a map revealing it), so I drew that part by hand to make it look, uh, drawn by hand. I even deliberatly made it look bad, just so it would look older than the rest. ;) The MCs doesn't know anything about the "old world" until they find the map, so I'm thinking of putting the map in the back as a referance to the reader if he wants it. But don't worry, I use it all the time while writing the story, so I write for a "known" world and don't make it up as I go along. ;)
     
  9. Yoshiko
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    Yoshiko Contributing Member Contributor

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    I deliberately ignore maps when the author chooses to include them as they never match my vision of their world. I think reader interpretation is stronger than trying to force your vision upon them. :)
     
  10. Steerpike
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    Steerpike Felis amatus Supporter Contributor

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    If you use a map as an author it can help you keep details straight so you don't write contradictory things. There is no reason the reader absolutely needs to see it. If the characters in the story are unaware of the geography and location of cities across the world, then the reader may just as well learn about it as they do.
     
  11. Rassidan
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    Rassidan Senior Member

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    For my fantasy world I created a map but I don't really need the map to visualize anything. I just use it to keep everything straight but then again my map is like 7' x 4-5' and this is not very detail oriented view of the world. Then again this is only one continent of my world as well.
     
  12. The Wendigo
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    The Wendigo New Member

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    I tend to agree with Steerpike. I do a lot of research and mapping, too; pencil sketches of locations, etc. This kind of thing I feel is a WRITER'S tool. It will help you add depth and texture to your story, and certainly bring a logic to it in your head as you write. But I would not include such things in the book itself. I would build a website for your work. This can be where you display your "behind the scenes" and technical material if you like; if it's something you've worked hard at and feel particularly proud of.
     
  13. Rassidan
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    Rassidan Senior Member

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    Even if you wanted a map with the book the publisher will more than likely hire someone else to illustrate it anyways. So anything you make is nothing more than a tool for your use unless your really good at drawing.
     
  14. psychotick
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    psychotick Contributing Member Contributor

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    Hi,

    To make your author's page you need to go to Amazon Kindle and your book and you should find a link to Author Central.

    Cheers.
     
  15. Sevvie
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    As a reader of fantasy, I really *like* it when stories include maps. However, I rarely actually use them. 4/5 stories I read that have maps I glance over once, and never look at again throughout the entire story. If you happen to make a map, I'd say include it. If you don't have a map, then it's no big deal. :)
     

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