1. murasaki_sama
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    murasaki_sama Senior Member

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    Maps

    Discussion in 'Setting Development' started by murasaki_sama, Mar 13, 2013.

    How many of you use maps when creating a new world/location?

    I try to use maps for most of my fantasy settings, at least if they go beyond a single city/building. For sci-fi, I only use maps for space ships, at least, that is all I have done so far. I tried to make a map of the galaxy once, but...that...didn't work out so well. Too many dimensions to effectively draw in 2D.

    Has anyone else made maps? Do you like when a novel includes a map or two? Do you think maps help with the writing process, or do you think they make it harder?

    Here are some of my maps, and sort of what they are for. Feel free to share some of your maps as well!

    Active RP on this site
    Old map for version one of the RP, from another site
    Different RP (Different continent, but the same world)
    Ship "Epiphany" 1 (From a novel series I am working on) || Epiphany Two, Labels
    Unnamed Ship 1 (same story as above) || Unamed ship 2
    My utterly failed attempt at a galaxy...
    Briar Rose (From a group RP on another site. Inspired the Epiphany design)
     
  2. GingerCoffee
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    GingerCoffee Web Surfer Girl Contributor

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    I looked at the geography of river basins because I needed to figure out how one of my characters was going to get ahead of people following the river (she cuts over the ridge) and then I decided I needed to create a map of my world because other logistics issues came up. So I made a crude map to keep travels realistic.
     
  3. murasaki_sama
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    murasaki_sama Senior Member

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    Thats sort of what I make my maps for, reference to keep things realistic. Especially if my characters are traveling from city to city...Its so hard to keep track of which way what is from here, and how far it is to there...

    Do you still have the map? Is it on the computer? Share it?
     
  4. GingerCoffee
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    GingerCoffee Web Surfer Girl Contributor

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    Not much to share, but it's only on scratch paper. I needed to draw out two river valleys, one that drained to the southwest where the city is and one that drained to the north where the desert is. The river to the north had to bend so my protag could cut across two ridges and get ahead of others. It then reaches a much slower slope, runs more slowly and meanders out across the desert. hat matters because there are cliff faces like the Grand Canyon involved in the story but the desert plays a role as well so the river had to leave it's gorge at some point.

    The other river is smaller and the protag and another person raft down the white water, then worry the rafts that get lost are going to end up downstream where they might be found. It results in some tension.

    Both rivers have to be plausible given they drain in different directions so I just looked at real maps and found a configuration to model mine after.

    I'm still debating how large the continent is going to be and whether there will be more than one continent on my fictional planet.
     
  5. GingerCoffee
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    GingerCoffee Web Surfer Girl Contributor

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    I can comment on this one but will need time to look at the others:

    Where is the center of your galaxy? How would you have a planet C1 near the center? What do the circles/elipses represent?

    I've been doing a lot of research for my planet by looking at real planets and solar systems. A whole galaxy is a different beast. There's a wealth of material out there now that the Kepler telescope is finding planets by the hundreds (2700+ candidates, 114 confirmed).


    As a diagram though, just to keep track of the galactic territories, your map may be fine for it's purpose.
     
  6. murasaki_sama
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    murasaki_sama Senior Member

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    The dashes/ellipses are explained in the legend. Each color stands for a different territory of one of the major three governments. Technically, C1 isn't in the middle of the galaxy, its in the middle of human explored space, which is what the map was supposed to show. I was a bit research shy when I made it, so I just sort of came up with random locations and planets, and figured I could make it work. I might do some research into where planets are found and where they seem to be the most habitable, and then maybe draw something over an image of the milky way...Hmm.
     
  7. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    If you find a rough map helpful for planning your story, go for it. But don't let it become a way to procrastinate writing. Keep it simple.

    But be aware that publishers, by and large, will not accept illustrations by the writer. All illustration is independently bid and contracted separately from the manuscript submission process, and the author is NOT given special consideration in the competitive bidding.

    Writers write. Illustrators illustrate.
     
  8. NellaFantasia
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    NellaFantasia Member

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    I draw up crude maps on Paint strictly for my own benefit. These can be anything from a map of a whole country or a map of a large city. It reminds me where things are and how far away for consistency, and sometimes it'll give me new ideas if there's special areas on the map. Otherwise I have no plans for anyone else to see them.
     
  9. GingerCoffee
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    GingerCoffee Web Surfer Girl Contributor

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    I saw the dashes in the key, but missed anything in the legend that referred to the elipses.:confused:

    I used my map sketch to make sure I wasn't creating plot holes. What is the purpose of your maps?

    I've been using research to keep my story at least reasonably plausible. My sci-fi setting is a future human story so I don't have as much literary license as some sci-fi stories.

    Human habitable planets are not likely to be in the center of a galaxy. If you have a life form that isn't limited like humans are, you could have beings that evolved to live in the conditions in the center of a galaxy. But if these are humans, (and I see you put Earth on the map), then you might want to consider the harsh conditions in the star concentrated/energy immense galaxy center.
     
  10. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    There is growing evidence that most large galaxies have a super-massive black hole at the center, along with unimaginably high levels of radiation throughout the core region.
     
  11. murasaki_sama
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    murasaki_sama Senior Member

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    The ellipses are just part of the dashes...I didn't want a solid line, so I used a broken one.

    Also, I said it before, and I will say it again - the center of the map is not the same as the center of the galaxy. I am well aware that the concentration of suns and gravitational energies in the center of the gravity makes it inhabitable to human like species. The map shows only human explored/controlled territories, and the center of human power is not based precisely on earth. That map is more like an above view of a one part of a spiral galaxy, not the entire galaxy.


    I use my maps for much the same reason, to avoid plot holes and inconsistencies. For the space one, I created it because my characters were traveling between space stations and planets, and I wasn't sure what reasonable travel times from each point was. So I made a map to show comparative distances, which I then used to adjust travel times to match. The ship maps I create so I can describe movement from room to room, relative room sizes, and figure out how many people I can fit on the crew without exceeding ship limitations.

    In fantasy settings I use them to help develop the world. For example, I know that Pohoni (also called Heion Shihaiken on the original map) has to border several (at least 3, but hopefully as many as 5) other nations/regions, because they fight these regions. But it also has to be slightly isolated by the geography in order to maintain its political isolation from the rest of the continent. So I sketch maps, and then I resketch them...and then I go on the computer and make a rough composite and change stuff around, playing with ideas.
     
  12. jannert
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    jannert Contributing Member Supporter Contributor

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    You really need to create maps, if you're creating any fictional setting. I have written a novel set in Montana in 1886, but have created a fictional town and surroundings, and sure as heck needed a map. I eventually drew one, and then had to go back over my entire manuscript, correcting silly details which I would never have included if I'd had the map in the first place.

    You'd be amazed at how many STUPID inconsistencies you can create in the process of writing, if you don't have the setting firmly in place. Which way does the river run? Which side of the river do your characters live on? Is there a way to get to them from the town if there isn't a bridge from the town, etc. How long will that journey take on horseback, etc. Does their front porch face the setting sun as well as the river? If so, the ranch had better be located on the correct side of the river! Little stuff like that.
     
  13. AVCortez
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    AVCortez Active Member

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    Research something called 'the goldilocks zone' - An astronomer told me its the term given to the space around a sun that is habitable. Because it's not to hot and not to cold.
     
  14. iolair
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    iolair Active Member

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    For my current project, while it does have some extensive underground complexes I've not done any maps for it at all and it's not felt necessary.

    For my next project, I have a very detailed set of city maps - but while I don't intend to share the maps with the readers, a fully detailed environment is part of my intention. In some works (e.g. Tolkien), it feels at times that the landscape feels almost like another character, and I aspire to that with my cityscape.

    I also developed a moderately detailed world that reached something like a medieval fantasy state but that was more as a hobby in itself - I've currently no intention to use it in writing, but created a few rendered images of it.
     
  15. murasaki_sama
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    murasaki_sama Senior Member

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    jannert - that is why I create my maps too. After writing a story and rereading it to find that just about every setting descriptor contradicted another descriptor, I decided that maps were needed. They are especially useful in roleplays, because they help make sure all the players are on the same page.

    Iolair - exactly! Not every story is about the event or the characters. Like the Lord of the Rings trilogy, some stories are about the world, exploring it and building it and just immersing the reader in it. while I don't expect to actually share my maps with my readers (i mean, they are horrible, look at them), I do want to know the world well enough to explain the relevant parts to the readers when they come up. For my fantasy world, I am creating several continents and a dozen countries - and then changing the countries as time goes by, because borders are not constant things. the maps help me flesh out the world, and make it so I don't use data dumb when writing just to flesh it out in my own mind. That way when I refer to things I have a starting point, something to build off of. But the world...the world is the story. the characters and the events are just... additions, bonus features, I suppose.
     
  16. Ian J.
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    Ian J. Active Member

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    I use a couple of programs to help with the worlds and galaxy I write for. One allows me to create worlds using algorithms that approximate tectonic plate activity, the other allows creation of star systems within a galaxy and ultimately (if there was enough computing power) a universe.

    I find that having a physical map (be it a world or star system) helps me to have a foundation within which I can tell my stories with less fear of coming up with contradicting geography or star/planet/moon positions. I think to most people's eyes I overdo it, but it gives me confidence and also sets limits I have to work within. It works for me :)
     
  17. GingerCoffee
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    GingerCoffee Web Surfer Girl Contributor

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    There's another issue which is a pet peeve of mine in sci-fi stories involving other planets, very few writers address the difference in gravity from planet to planet.
     
  18. murasaki_sama
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    murasaki_sama Senior Member

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    What are the names of those programs and how do I get my hands on them? I have been looking for programs that would help me with this, and I cannot find any!
     
  19. AVCortez
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    AVCortez Active Member

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    I suppose that either comes down to poor research on the writers part, or simply failing to specify that the gravity is the same as Earth. I remember the TV show dragon ball Z did a lot with gravity. At the time I didn't think much about it but in retrospect it was actually quite interesting.


    Names please! The world I'm writing in at the moment is a medieval fantasy in a world with two suns and three moons. I've basically given up on making it scientifically plausible (it is fantasy not sci-fi after all), there are just so many things to consider with tides and what not. But software like this might help with making the calendar.
     
  20. murasaki_sama
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    murasaki_sama Senior Member

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    Anne McCaffrey's Freedom series (Freedom's Landing, Freedom's Choice and the those ones) also dealt with multiple gravity intensities, at least partially. Larry Niven's Integral Trees also uses a different gravity from Earth. I can't think of any other sci-fi series I am familiar with that also dealt with different gravities. I didn't quite realize that lack until now. Although I do remember DBZ using stronger gravity - but that was mostly in controlled circumstances or when talking about the strength of the one race, I believe. Its been a while since I watched any of it...
     
  21. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    In Larry Niven's Protector, Brennan played some interesting games with gravity engineering, both frivolous and deadly serious. In fact, gravity effects play a large role in many of his stories.

    Isaac Asimov's Dr. Wendell Urth broke the alibi of a murder in The Singing Bell due to a difference in gravity.

    Ben Bova's novels all painstakingly take into account real-world differences, including gravity, among the various bodies in the Solar System.

    Of course, humans will prefer to settle worlds with near-terrestrial conditions, so it's not terribly unreasonable for many of the worlds in science fiction stories to have close to earthlike gravity.
     
  22. TimHarris
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    TimHarris Senior Member

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    I find making a map essential to my writing. In fact, it was one of the first things that I did. It lets me know where my story is taking place, and allow me to easily check locations of towns and cities when I need to describe things like distances, relative distances, easiest means of transport, etc etc
     
  23. Ian J.
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    Ian J. Active Member

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    I'll mention them since I've been asked, but I risk the wrath of the Admin team as we're not supposed to 'endorse' any products.

    The star system one is 'AstroSynthesis' by NBOS RPG Software - a Google search will lead to links for it. It's not free though. They also do a world building program as well called 'Fractal World Explorer' which is part of the AstroSynthesis package. I don't use it as yet, because of the program I do currently use, but I will probably look to use it in later books in my serial.

    The world building one I currently use is called 'WorldBuilder' but it's very old and you can't get it any more, the specific program doesn't even show up on Google searches either. It runs on an old Windows 98 PC I keep specifically for the purpose. I like it because despite its age and deficiencies, it seems to have just about caught a way of doing the continents that works for me. I have to use some other programs after a world build though, as its output files aren't high enough resolution.
     
  24. AVCortez
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    AVCortez Active Member

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    I'm new here but surely that's to stop people from mindlessly pumping their own products? Either way, thanks a lot for risking your skin. I'll take a look and see if it suits my purpose.

    Thanks Ian

    Generally speaking I do just use photo editing software for map production. But I have the benefit of being a mediocre illustrator.

    EDIT: Here is a map I am working on. It is not a final draught, not even close actually. But I need a map up on the website so here it is. Etheros Map
     

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