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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I am currently writing a fantasy novel, and I am finding that drawing out a map is helping a lot.

Has anyone else here written a novel that needed a map, and have any tips that they want to share?
Did you draw it by hand, or on the computer with a software?
How many times did you revise it before it was finalized? How did it help or hinder your writing/ideas?
Did you include your map in the eBook that you published?

I found this link really helpful for anyone in the same boat as me:

I really enjoyed how the pointed out to really think about how fast the characters can travel when going from landmark to landmark, it's a simple thing but having it spelled out has brought my story together.

Also, how long did it take to write your fantasy novel, out of curiosity? My goal is to write it by the summer, but I read that Amanda Hocking wrote her stories in only weeks! Maybe I should make a tighter deadline.


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I almost always make a map before I even begin a fantasy story. I'm a drawer from an early age, so it was something that was enjoyable to me. I made a map when I was 14 complete with city names and didn't even have a story idea for it. It wasn't until three years later I came up with a story idea and decided I would utilize that unused map as the story's world. The only time I didn't do that was with The Adventure Tournament, which had no map until I finished the first few chapters and had to send my characters away from the story's main city.

I think most fantasists would tell you it's wise to start with the map, unless the story takes place in a small area or you have a very detailed memory that can keep distances and cities all that straight. I tend to agree with that; I won't even read a fantasy book that doesn't have a map included because I can't feel connected or part of an alternate world if I don't even know its basic geography. Having it finalized beforehand helps so much with world building, and I believe every fantasy world should have at least six months of world building behind it before a word of story is written.

My map making thoughts:

-I don't include scales on my maps because sometimes you need to fudge distances for the sake of the story. It's hard to get away with that if you provide a tool so readers can track the movement of every character and how long it should take them to reach any given place.

-Keep in mind how much of the world the map covers, so you always know the general climate of any given region. Know where your equator and poles are. That way you don't end up with a society living close to the north pole who dress in light robes and wear sandals.

-City logistics. Large cities usually spring up on coasts, along rivers or inland on big trade routes, not in the middle of nowhere. Just make sure the dwelling makes sense in its setting.

-Put some real geology into it to make it realistic. Rain shadows, elevations, etc. It's fantasy, so you can get away with a lot, but make sure it's plausible within the context of the world.

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Pearson Moore said:
I use Campaign Cartographer:

It gives terrific maps that look great in grayscale, black and white, or colour.
Yeah, Campaign Cartographer is a lot of fun. Bit of a learning curve, but that can be fun, too.

I also used the Castles! plug-in for internal castle layouts; this is really helpful, but also big learning curve.

Still, if you're having fun doing it really work?
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