Welcome to day 1 of the Indie E-Con! You can find other great posts and schedules over at the super awesome coordinator, Kendra Ardnek’s blog! (I also have another post over there today. Go check it out! 🙂 )
Today I’ll be talking about something near and dear to my heart. Maps! I don’t know about you but I love flipping open a new book (typically fantasy) and seeing a map in the opening pages. You can thank my childhood loves LOTR, Narnia, and Redwall for instilling in me a love of all things maps.
Maps are also great for people like me who have terrible senses of direction and get confused easily when authors start throwing around geographical terms for a place you’re completely new to. As a reader, I love them. And as a writer, I love them.
Maps are some of the first things I’ll create when writing a new story. (See above with terrible sense of direction. I’d get lost in my own fantasy world.)
I grab a piece of paper, or a sketchbook and a pencil and start with a rough draft. I start with the places I know and that are already written. It’s a rough draft so I’m not worried about scaling distances so much yet. I’ll pencil in rough geographic features – mountains, forests, towns, hills, lakes, etc. These things have been subject to change. A compass is placed in a corner for reference.
Maps help you understand your world even more. Even if you’re not a great artist (me), it gives you a sense understanding and makes you more confident in finding your way around. The nifty compass in the corner even helps when writing in travel directions or battleplans, or random geographic directions.
I’m a rough outliner, and for me maps are more important than an outline. (Personal preference here. Maps won’t change that much. Outlines will.)
Plus it makes you feel like a legit fantasy author. 😛 Jk. Although it is pretty cool when readers exclaim over the map. I have my map framed to take to conventions and book signings. It’s drawn readers and in and has started more than one conversation (which most of the time lead to sales).
But maps aren’t the only things I’ll sketch. I’ve done battle plans, house and castle plans, at least one ship section. The same goes for these. It helps give you an even better sense of the setting you’ve created.
When it comes time to publish, don’t forget your map! The artist who did mine has studied cartography which came in very handy! Here’s one reference I know of that offers services for map making!