Indie E-Con: Mapping Your World


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! πŸ™‚ )

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. πŸ˜› 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).

It was amazing to see my imagination on paper!

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!

Now turning it over to you! What’s your favorite fantasy map? Do you create maps for your worlds?

13 thoughts on “Indie E-Con: Mapping Your World

  1. Thanks so much for taking part in Indie e-Con, Claire!

    I’m not much of a mapper, though I’ve drawn … three. One for a post on Bookania (It’s on the Memorable Worlds posts that I did for The Ankulen’s promotion), one on a can of pumpkin pie for a Rizkaland Video, and then the one that I put at the back of WPFP.

    I’m not much of a mapper. I should probably utilize them more, but … um, I don’t want to bog myself down in planning and never write the book. (Seriously, I’ll do that.)

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hehe! I tend to shy away from a lot of planning myself. But I usually need maps to keep myself oriented. My current WIP has the characters off on a journey and I’d have them going around in circles if I didn’t have a map. lol!


  2. This is great! I adore maps, especially for fantasy novels, but even with artistic talents I am not very good at making them lol. I had really good intentions for making one for Blood Ties, (and have a very loose version for my personal use) but it never made it into the book. But I will also check out the artist you suggested. I totally respect people who can do that πŸ™‚

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yes! My maps look terrible. And I’m so grateful my sister’s art teacher used to do cartography and was willing to map the maps for me! People who can do that are amazing.


  3. Thanks for this great idea, Clair!! πŸ˜€
    I have never really done a map before, though I do love it when I find them in books (someone recently did a map of Allyra for the continuation of Batson and Hopper’s “The Berinfell Prophecies” series (it’s finally getting a continuation, I’m so hyped!! XD) and it was so awesome to finally see all the places we’d heard about laid out like that.)
    I think my favorite map from a series would be all the awesome ones from LOTR (and The Hobbit, and The Silmarillion.) I know, predictable, lol. But they’re just so detailed and intricate! I can seriously get lost staring at all those maps for hours if I’m not careful. And I always loved the map of Narnia and the surrounding lands from The Horse and His Boy when I was younger, too. πŸ˜€

    Liked by 1 person

    • I love The Horse and His Boy! It’s my favorite Narnia book. πŸ™‚

      I love the LOTR map as well. I have a full size one that I really want to get framed and hang up. It’s kind of what I aspire for my worlds to be with the details and everything. πŸ™‚
      But I love pouring over any kind of maps – fiction or real.


  4. Heh. I tend to forget to look at maps in fantasy books . . . that said, I have a map of Middle Earth on my wall at home, so I guess I’ll say that’s my favorite fantasy map?

    As for my own stories- I attempt to make maps in Paint or such sometimes. Usually they’re terrible, but they do the job they need to, which is helping me figure out where places are in relation to one another.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I’ve never tried making a map in Paint (maybe just because of my poor artistic skills).

      The LOTR map is fantastic. I’d love to frame my big copy one day to hang.


  5. I too have a map of Middle-earth framed on my wall (staring at me as I type this, actually) and I have some awesome enormous fold-out full color Tolkien-related maps that I have no room on my walls to hang (because face it, if I have wall-space big enough for that, I’m putting bookcases there. XD). So yes, maps are great! I actually have been really lax about doing maps lately… I used to have them for my epic fantasy stories but I’ve been writing in contemporary fantasy or sci-fi genres etc. lately and haven’t done more than some scribbles sometimes to remind myself of things. One of my problems is that my imagination and memory of places in my stories shifts sometimes… so I don’t know if I could keep it consistent. XD Which means that I definitely SHOULD make the maps before I start… but sometimes I don’t know what needs to go in the maps until I do start, so it’s a circular problem. πŸ˜› …Sorry for the ramble. All that to say, maps are great, and this is a fabulous reminder! Thanks for the awesome post! (And your map is pretty awesome, just saying. ;))

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks! I love my map. πŸ™‚

      I have a set of Tolkien maps that I really want to frame, but yeah, space is a problem when competing with bookshelves. πŸ˜›
      Sometimes I don’t start a map until I’m almost done with the first draft and then realize everything would have been waay easier with a reference. πŸ˜› That’s also me and timelines though…

      Liked by 1 person

  6. Maps are so cool. LOTR and Narnia and Redwall are my favorite, they have so much detail! I wish I could create something like it for my series!
    That’s a great idea, btw: using your map at events to draw people in.

    Liked by 1 person

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