1. jessilynnc
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    jessilynnc New Member

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    maps and such for reference?

    Discussion in 'Setting Development' started by jessilynnc, Jun 30, 2015.

    How does anyone feel about seeing things like maps, family trees, and glossaries in the beginning of a fiction novel? I've heard mixed opinions like, some people find it really helpful, and other people are saying if the book is good enough it shouldn't be necessary. What do you think?
     
  2. EdFromNY
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    EdFromNY Hope to improve with age Supporter Contributor

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    First of all, "fiction novel" is a redundancy. There is no such thing as a non-fiction novel.

    Inclusion of a map can save lots of words in description. It gives the reader an additional reference if the reader so desires. And if the reader wants to skip it, (s)he can. James Michener included maps of one sort or another in many of his novels.
     
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  3. Stacy C
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    Stacy C Banned

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    I don't know about 'necessary', but as a reader, I never even look at such maps, etc. There's one thriller writer who always has a three page list of characters and their relationships in the front of his books. I stopped reading him because his plots were such that those lists were actually necessary, if not all that helpful.
     
  4. jessilynnc
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    jessilynnc New Member

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    Right, fiction novel, now I feel stupid. Sorry, I should probably mention that I spent all of my school years (seriously all of them) writing instead of paying attention. Anything I do know, I learned from my sister and she wasn't exactly always around. So, I feel like I want to be offended for being called out on my mistakes but I'm actually glad to know that it is a mistake so I won't do it again. I'm obviously very young, but since I've spent pretty much my whole life putting things on paper I feel like it's all a waste if I'm the only one that sees it. So, here I am making mistakes and asking a zillion probably stupid questions, and thank you for bothering to give them any thought at all. :)
     
  5. Miss Lonelyhearts
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    Miss Lonelyhearts Member

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    I love the idea of the family tree map if it is important for the story to know such information and to make it clear to the reader who is who. me, personally I don't use them in mine.
     
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  6. sprirj
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    sprirj Contributing Member

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    Welcome to the forum jessilynnc. I say put in anything you feel adds to the experience. I'm a graphic designer, and as such I have to think outside the box. One of my old tutors used to say that creatives were problem solvers, we had a brief ie a problem, and it was our task to solve it. This didn't mean design a leaflet, if it required such, we would create an animation or an audio piece. As long as the problem gets solved in the best way possible. I would say the same for writers. If it solves the problem better than writing a massive info dump, or paragraph after paragraph of street names and family histories, then go for it. There is also an element of rebellion by using images in books, that certain people turn their noses up at. I think it is ok to be a trouble maker sometimes. :)
     
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  7. izzybot
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    izzybot Human Disaster Contributor

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    I read a lot of fantasy when I was younger and I always loved inclusions of maps and glossaries and such. I would absolutely stop reading to consult them. But then I was a complete dork, too. Not like now :cool:

    Anyway, I think stuff like that tends to be cooler for younger reader since it helps them get really into the world. When I would see see a map in the front of a book it made me feel like "wow! I'm going on an adventure to this place!" and I'm not sure if that holds true for most adults? At any rate I know I have a more tame "oh neat" sort of reaction to them now. I don't find them annoying or anything, though - they're easy enough to skip over if you're not interested, so I don't see it being much of a big deal. Provided of course that you do adequately instill a sense of where things are in your world (or in the case of a glossary, adequately explain terms in-text), and the map isn't necessary to understand what's going on. As long as your supplementary material is actually supplementary and not required, why not? No harm done and an extra treat for people who like it.

    Also I think it's worth noting that maps (IMO) should always go at the front, while glossaries should always go at the back. I'm not as familiar with family trees but I do remember skipping over a few that were at the start of the book because it felt like spoilers - I wanted to be introduced to the characters organically, not first see them in lists of how they're connected to each other. That might just be me, though.
     
  8. AlcoholicWolf
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    AlcoholicWolf Contributing Member

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    Well, ASoIAF has maps and genealogy charts, and given the sweeping nature of the story and the number of complicated characters and relationships that get dumped on you in a very short time, they're a damn good thing to have in the front and back of the book.

    At the end of the day it's your decision to include those things. And if people don't like them, nobody is forcing them to use them, are they?

    I'm with Izzy, I think it adds immersion to the world and can often simplify things. "If the book is good enough it doesn't need them" Well, what if the book is so good, it does need them? Opinions like that are redundant, no two books are the same. Unless it's about Brodo Faggins and his quest to Mount Dread to destroy the One Necklace sought by Bauron.
     
  9. GingerCoffee
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    GingerCoffee Web Surfer Girl Contributor

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    Hi, welcome to the forum @jessilynnc. Don't mind the pedant, he's harmless. ;)

    I drew a map because I needed it to make sure I was keeping my character's movements consistent with the geography I was describing. I don't think my story is complicated enough to need the map in the actual book but were I writing a long distance quest, like in The Lord of the Rings, I think a map is perfectly appropriate.
     
  10. Aaron DC
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    Aaron DC Contributing Member

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    As a very visual person, maps and what not help keep things straight in my mind.
    If your story requires it, I think that's a failing, but as an added bonus, I say: go for it.
     
  11. koadancer
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    koadancer New Member

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    As a reader I love maps. I look at them all, in every book I read. I love to see the evolution of maps in a series. They always get more complex and more detailed. Maps help me delve deeper into the world created and help me lose myself in the story. Any kind of graphic that helps your reader visualize your world helps them experience your story rather than read it. I say go for it!
     
  12. Topaztock
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    I'm contemplating developing a map for the story I'm writing, so I think I'm going through the same thing as you @jessilynnc.

    I know family trees are useful, especially when you've got to work to understand everything. I studied the Oresteia last year and I'd have been lost without the chart at the back pointing out who was related to who.

    They can be useful to refer to, basically. For writers and readers. And am I right in thinking it's the publishers who would ultimately decide if a Map were to be included?
     
  13. croak3r
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    croak3r Member

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    I dont see a need for maps in most novels unless your writing something the same size as middle earth. I also feel like they would restrict what you can add in later books, since you will already have drawn out the plans for the area.
    I definitely dont like family trees though. If you have so many characters that the reader cannot remember them all then maybe you should look to remove some, or just say who they are each time one comes into a scene after not being spoken of for a while.
     
  14. Revilo87
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    Revilo87 Member

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    It depends on what kind of novel you are writing. Maps shouldn't be necessary unless it's set in a fantasy world like Middle Earth or Narnia, or set somewhere in our world's past/future. Personally, I like the maps wherever they're placed in a book, but there are also those who will skip over them too. Either way though, they won't have any negative effect on your work.

    Family trees, can be useful tools but you shouldn't rely on them to completely explain the relationships of everyone involved, merely emphasize it. In the Harry Potter universe, it's stated multiple times in the first few books that all wizards are related to each other at least through marriage if not by blood if you go back far enough. By book 5 we get a glimpse of a family tree that shows this, but most of what is revealed was already known, but it was a nice tidbit for the reader to see it all mapped out. Through other events in book 6 and 7 we even learn that Harry and Voldermort are distant, distant, distant, cousins.

    As far as glossaries go, again if it's a fantasy novel where there's a made up language like elvish, it should be ok, but your reader shouldn't be having to flip back to the glossary every time to figure out what's being said. You should find a way for the reader to understand what the elves, etc are saying even if the main character does not.
     

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