Worldbuilding Part 1: Maps

Since (and probably thanks to) the work of J.R.R. Tolkien maps have become a common part of fantasy writing.  Whether it’s a map for the inside of a published book that readers can refer back to or simply a sketch pinned on a wall, most fantasy authors create a map of their world.

To me, it’s an essential starting point for detailed worldbuilding.  Despite the fact I am thoroughly useless at drawing, I find it so helpful to sketch down what my world actually looks like.  Once I have a clear map of the geography of my world, where the mountains, rivers, lakes, deserts, towns, valleys, cities, and oceans are, it’s much easier to do the rest of my world building.

Obviously not everyone goes into as much detail as I do, and that’s ok.  It can be rather time consuming.  I’ve spent longer than I should have this evening trying to get my mountain ranges to look just right (I eventually gave up and decided to trace some from a tutorial I was watching), but that’s the perfectionist in me.

I’m focusing on three styles of map this week: a full world map with all the continents, more detailed maps of (relevant) continents and regions, and city maps.

It’s probably too much detail, but I don’t care.  Besides, I like to think that one day they’ll all be printed in the front of my novel.

Despite being appalling at art and practically living for the written word (reading, writing, to do lists, any lists), I’m also quite a visual person.  My notes are colour-coded (and always have been).  I like being able to look at something at see it there. So even though I love expressing myself through writing, I find it so much easier to have a map of my world/cities to just look at when I’m working out who is where and why and all that writing/plot stuff.

So, yeah, I like maps.  I like drawing maps.  It gives me something to look forwards to after a ridiculous day of uni.  Maps are good.

If you’re interested, tune in tomorrow to see a sneak peak of one of the maps I’ve been working on!


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