1. MustWrite
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    MustWrite Member

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    Help with maps

    Discussion in 'Setting Development' started by MustWrite, Sep 7, 2014.

    So, I'm 70'000 words into my first novel-length fantasy and I realise I need to change where some of the countries/realms etc are on my map, and therefore geography etc. Yeesh I thought ordinary revision was hard. I am a bit confused and trying to get my tired brain to work this out..
    For those who make maps for their imaginary places- how do you go about it in a logical way? How do you decide what the needs of your story are? Or do you make a map first and make your story fit it? Any help apreciated.
     
  2. GingerCoffee
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    GingerCoffee Web Surfer Girl Contributor

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    That's a bit too general of a question. What is it you are unable to fit into your geography?

    I needed to map out the rivers in my world because it mattered which direction they flowed, how close they were to the snowmelt (because my characters live in the forest and swim in the rivers but they needed to be far enough away from the coast to be secluded). I have a scene where a character cuts off a party traveling down the river by climbing over some difficult cliffs.

    Those were some of the story details that I drew a map to help me keep the geography realistic.

    So what is the problem you need the map to solve?
     
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  3. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    I don't make maps as a rule. However, I do sometimes lay out a chart of locations as circles, with lines between them marked with distances and/or directional info, as appropriate. This helps me keep relative positioning, just to make sure I don't create impossible geometries,

    For anyone else who is mathematically inclined, yes, I do use graph theory when necessary, or when it simplifies checking. Bit most of my settings don't meed much analysis anyway.
     
  4. MustWrite
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    GingerCoffee, I feel dumb saying this, but I basically ran out of room. I drew a map at the begining but as I went along with my imagination adding bits here and there I forgot how much I was fitting in. I had the opposing empire in the west but I now realise I have not really left enough room between my good realms allies in the south west and another kingdom to the north [a nuetral one that will probably have to be moved- my characters journey to it so I will have to rework some stuff.] There is stuff to the north east and south east that plays a part in the plot. I'm just going to have to get my head around it..
     
  5. Wreybies
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    Wreybies The Ops Pops Operations Manager Staff Contest Administrator Supporter Contributor

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    Um... Just as kindov'a lateral concept... Given what is happening to your map in geographic size, are you making sure distances are realistic to the happenstances in your story given the technology available to your story? I made a map of my story world because there is an ocean voyage and I wanted to make sure that my characters got to where they got in an appropriate amount of time. Not too short, not too long. The place they are going needs to far enough away to be faaaaar away, without being so far away that my characters are dramatically aged at the end, because that doesn't fit.

    Just a thing to think about. You may already have taken it into account. ;)
     
  6. erebh
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    erebh Contributing Member Contributor

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    @MustWrite will readers follow your map with a pointed finger as they read the adventures your characters embark upon or will they accept it's a long or short way away? McCarthy's character in The Road walks hundreds of miles bumping into every misadventure possible but no one ever wondered, "Why is he going West when he should be going North?"

    My advice - don't fret...
     
  7. MustWrite
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    MustWrite Member

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    @Wreybies I have put some thought into realistic distances but I'm having a lot of trouble thinking logically right now due to lack of sleep and moving house/family stress. How did you decide how far was far enough? Did you study anything on what distances/speeds ocean going ships do?
     
  8. MustWrite
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    @erebh I think maps might be a bit more used and expected by fantasy readers than in a work like The Road, [?] but I'm really working on the map right now because I want my story to make sense, even if my readers don't notice :D
     
  9. Wreybies
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    Wreybies The Ops Pops Operations Manager Staff Contest Administrator Supporter Contributor

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    Yes, I did study a bit, the early years of exploration of France, England, Portugal, etc. Discovery of the New World period. I wanted the voyage to last almost 3 years round trip and I discovered to my surprise that this gave me plenty of space to sail to faaaaarrr away. It gave me a rough idea of places I could stop and make story happen off ship, how long I could stay off ship and still get back in the time period I want. It keeps my protags in their late 20's and gives just enough time for other characters (not on the voyage) to age into the parts I want them to play.
     
  10. Robert Klein II
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    Robert Klein II Member

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    I made my map when I realized I was going to need one. And I'm a perfectionist so I had to make it perfect and than order a perfect map :p

    How much traveling and economical stuff is there in the novel?
     
  11. MustWrite
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    MustWrite Member

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    There is a fair bit of traveling, I really do need to figure out size and distances of stuff.. I think when I get some down time I should have a real good think on the map and doodle with it for a while, It needs to have everything fit in and it's bugging me now..:(
     
  12. Robert Klein II
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    Yeah, it's nice to have reference maps when writing. I have a ton of traveling in my novel so I find it really strange to see a novel without one.

    In my map an inch is about 30 miles. I don't say that though because the reader should guess somewhere around there.
     
  13. terminalfrost
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    terminalfrost New Member

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    I keep maps of all my stories though I'd never include one. To quote Glen Cook: "Maps create boundaries".
     
  14. Jaro
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    Jaro Active Member

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    Whenever I have written a story that I thought needed a map, I always created it before I started writing more than a basic outline. That way I had an image to play with that would define what I wanted, where I wanted. Granted, I always end up editing the map at least a bit, as sometimes things play out differently than expected.
     
  15. cutecat22
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    cutecat22 The Strange One Contributor

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    I do the same with plans for certain buildings. It helps me move my characters around them realistically.
     
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  16. Jaro
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    Jaro Active Member

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    That is what I find too. I like to have the image of the area in my head while I'm writing. I don't have to sit and figure out if it works later on.
     
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  17. Shadowfax
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    Shadowfax Contributing Member Contributor

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    A sailing ship could travel at about 5 knots, which would mean that it could cover about 120 miles per day (it would generally travel 24 hours - although the Greeks would put ashore at night...perhaps to rest their rowers, who weren't galley slaves), the earliest circumnavigations took about 3 years, say 1000 days, to cover 20,000-24,000 miles, averaging 1 knot...or perhaps averaging 4 days R&R per 1 day of sailing.

    Travelling on land...walking, 20 miles per day would be a LONG way...the most famous forced march in recent military history was the Royal Marines' yomp in the Falklands in 1982, when they covered 56 miles in 3 days, with full (80 lbs) kit. Anyone who's ever done a half-marathon or longer will know that you need to be pretty fit to cope with covering anywhere over 10 miles in one sitting! And rough terrain (and in fantasy-land, most terrain - even the roads! - is rough terrain!) adds a new dimension to how far you can go.
     
  18. MustWrite
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    Thanks everyone for the great feedback. I will go and sort all my maps etc out before going any further I think. And give some logical thought to distances, etc..
     

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