Should I draw a Map?

Discussion in 'Workshop' started by Grimbear, May 26, 2011.

  1.  
    Grimbear

    Grimbear In the Woods

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    Ok - It's bad. I think I need to draw a map.

    I am 12,000 words into a novel. My characters are travelling around - not epic journey style - but travelling nonetheless from city to town etc and I am anxious I am getting/going to get confused as to where certain places are in relation to each other and the distances between them.

    I don't intend to have a map in the book (hah! like it will be published!)

    Who here has drawn maps. If you did, did they help at all?

    Thanks

    Grim
  2.  
    HareBrain

    HareBrain Lagomorphing Staff Member

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    Yes, I've drawn maps of cities, houses, islands, ships, and a large section of the world. Each one only took minutes, and they were very useful.
  3.  
    chopper

    chopper still alive

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    yes to both questions.

    in some ways a map can jump-start the creative process. and, as you're already finding out, it's always nice to know exactly where your guys are headed before they get there and find out they've gone somewhere else.

    my own maps are less than publishable. dying spiders have better cartographic skillz.
  4.  
    Mouse

    Mouse roar

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    Yep, I've also drawn maps. Badly drawn maps, but they were for my reference more than anything else so it didn't matter. ;)
  5.  
    Grimbear

    Grimbear In the Woods

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    Maybe you are better at drawing - I see it as an epic slog. But helpful you say...hmm

    why houses? was it for fight choreography?
  6.  
    Grimbear

    Grimbear In the Woods

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    Thanks - Good to hear that last part particularly. I've never drawn a map before though. What's the best way to start?

    Thanks, all of you. I guess I am going to have to bite the bullet on this
  7.  
    chrispenycate

    chrispenycate resident pedantissimo Staff Member

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    There have been map drawing threads before; not for some time, though, long enough for some illustrations to fall off Photobucket.

    Now, you see, you just have to get up to Leisha's skill on: http://www.sffchronicles.co.uk/forum/46370-maps.html ;), or try out the programs in : http://www.sffchronicles.co.uk/forum/37340-map-creation.html

    I will admit to drawing a fair number of maps, partly to estimate travel times, as the horse advances or the dragon flies, and partly for weather conditions; if I'm on the rainy side of a mountain, or in the rain shadow, it changes agriculture and employment for just about everybody; the trick is to do it fast enough that you don't spend all your time map (and world) creating, and forget about the writing for which it is supposed to be subservient.
  8.  
    Grimbear

    Grimbear In the Woods

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    Thanks Chrisp,

    I shall do as you suggest and visit those links.

    Yeah - sometimes it's hard to keep it in your head, but the quickness of the hand deceives the eye...

    I have soldiers plus one hostage journeying in a mountainous region and it is heading toward Winter...

    What's a rainshadow?
  9.  
    Hex

    Hex Mod in tooth and claw Staff Member

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    I only drew a map of a city, and since I can't draw even as well as a dying spider I took the map of another (real) city and drew over it.
  10.  
    Grimbear

    Grimbear In the Woods

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    Good plan - mind if I steal it?
  11.  
    Hex

    Hex Mod in tooth and claw Staff Member

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    Please steal it!
  12.  
    Grimbear

    Grimbear In the Woods

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    I will for sure
  13.  
    alchemist

    alchemist Not on holidays

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    I have a town plan as a table on a Word document. Yes, it's simple. I don't like maps in books - I seem obliged to keep going back and looking at them. Having drawn one myself, I now realise why so many include them - "all that work; shame to let it go to waste."
  14.  
    Teresa Edgerton

    Teresa Edgerton Goblin Princess Staff Member

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    I've drawn a number of maps using the drawing painting program on Appleworks. They aren't supposed to be drawn to scale or particularly accurate (more like like early medieval maps), but they do give an idea of where everything is in relation to everywhere else.

    http://www.sffchronicles.co.uk/forum/1429894-post10.html

    Journey Map

    A rain shadow is the area that lies on the downwind side of a mountain range. It's hot and dry because the mountains catch most of the rain as the clouds move across the land from the ocean. (No doubt some of our more scientifically minded friends can explain this better.) Anyway, it's one of the things you should know when mapping out your world, even if you only carry the map in your head. For instance, it tells you where your deserts are most likely to be*, and where your rain forests probably are not.

    *Before someone mentions the Sahara Desert, I'll do it myself. It's bounded on the west by the ocean. Where the mountains are is only one factor in determining climate. It's actually a lot more complex.
    Last edited: May 27, 2011
  15.  
    The Judge

    The Judge Truth. Order. Moderation. Staff Member

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    I've done something very similar, making a very rough freehand copy -- in my case not of a city, but a large harbour area and its surrounds. That also extended into noting the contour lines for the port, to get an idea of how steeply the land rises, the distance from the open sea to the inner harbour, and the geological underpinnings of the area so I can have locally made pottery from the china clay and a kind of local marble. (I have made a note that in any Acknowledgements I have to thank the OS and Poole Harbour Commissioners!)

    I've also found a real life castle, spent hours checking out various photos of it on the internet and created what I think is a floor plan of it, which I'm now using for my castle sitting above the harbour. I'm trying to persuade the other half that I really need to go and see it for real, though. (It's in Italy... :D)
  16.  
    Boneman

    Boneman Active Member

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    Never drawn maps before, always kept the visualisation in my head. But I did buy a wall-sized relief map of the USA, since my characters were going to have to cross it (alternative world - no cities) which will help enormously when I get round to actually writing it...

    In my wip, my hero set off on a caravan of horse and oxen-drawn wagons for a six month journey from one city to another. After a week, he diverted, and spent some time at another city before heading on to try to rejoin said caravan. I actually drew, for the first time, a map, so I could work out, semi-accurately, where he'd find them. I knew if I didn't, some reader(!) would write and tell me my calculations were absurd, so they stopped reading...

    I've got at least another five Ancient cities to put in my world, so I actually thought (after checking those threads chris and others have mentioned) that I might buy Campaign Cartogropher, since the only person who'd recognise my pencil-drawn efforts would be Hex, as a kindred spirit. When I checked online, I was shocked at the prices, and it only ships from the USA, so I wandered into my local 'Game' store, to be told there were no software packages stocked by them, and suggested I try the internet..

    There's a stay-at-home-job for some enterprising computer map-making whizz-kid, ripe for the taking! Read the book, write the map for me...
  17.  
    chopper

    chopper still alive

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    on maps: "Where should I start?" Without wanting to sound condescending, with a blank piece of paper. Choose one edge of the paper and just let yourself doodle a line. it will turn into a coastline. everything else comes from there, in one way or another. I find that if you think too much about it to begin with, you hamstring yourself. both the world-maps I've drawn so far started out this way. they might change along the way, but that doesn't matter. like writing, it's just important to have something on paper.

    on floorplans: done much the same as TJ. i've scoured the webz for floorplans for riads, just so that i know where the titular character lives. i also needed the ancient library of Alexandria. of course, none of these will be anything like the originals when they're polished up.....
  18.  
    HareBrain

    HareBrain Lagomorphing Staff Member

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    I skimmed this first time as meaning you were having made locally a pottery version of your setting. And I thought: "Now, that's dedication."
  19.  
    Christian Nash

    Christian Nash ---- Never Give Up ----

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    I drew a map and I was amazed by how much it actually helped. There was also a sense of pride seeing your world, your work in that form. Even if the drawing isn't the best it won't matter when you've stained it with tea and crumpled it up.

    Also, if you do the malp early on, half of it'll be made up compared to the other half which you would have mentioned in your book, and this will then affect the story you tell - one days travel... with mountains in the way? - with the terrain lending to the story.
  20.  
    The Judge

    The Judge Truth. Order. Moderation. Staff Member

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    When Dodie Smith was writing I Capture the Castle her husband made a model of the castle for her. I keep mentioning this to the other half... (I think I've got more chance of the Italy jaunt.)

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