Monday, April 22, 2013

Should I Draw A Map For My Fantasy Novel?

One of the things that's constantly bugged me when I was writing my fantasy novel was the map. You know, the maps that they publish at the beginning of some fantasy books? (Come on. Even Winnie the Pooh books have a map of the Hundred Acre Wood at their beginning.)

                                           Please use proper spelling while naming your places though.

Now, a lot of guides would tell you to stay away from making maps, mainly because they're cliched and such. That's true, but at the same time maps seem to add a depth to your novel that can't be captured with words. It adds another dimension to your work, and makes the world you're drawing all the more real. Not only that, it can serve as a template for you while you're deciding on your plot.

But no matter how nice they look at the beginning of a book, I kind of decided that I wouldn't draw one. Aside from the fact that using maps is humdrum, there's a fact that your publisher probably won't bother looking at your hand drawn map and your writing will be far more important in this regard anyway. Plus, it's your publisher who gets to decide whether or not your map will be added, and if they do, they'll probably get a professional to do it.

Also, aside from the fact that I do not have enough artistic talent to bring out a map, there are two main reasons I opted for not drawing my map:

1. It's hard keeping your map realistic. You don't want to fill it with names like 'The Forest of Doom' that no one in their right minds could possibly actually name a place. Not only that, but you have to keep the map in synch with your story. You can't have your characters traveling between two towns in one day and then suddenly traveling three times that distance in one hour. You have to make sure that the distances between locations make sense, and that geographical features do as well. (Water doesn't run uphill, and neither do real rivers.)

2. If you haven't plotted out all of your world yet, if you make the map, then you can't change it later. This is actually the main thing that kept me away from attempting to draw a map. I hadn't visualized all of the world my book was supposed to take place in, and I wanted to explore it in a bit more detail in later books. If I messed up, there wouldn't be any turning back. (If you're wondering, I have a general idea of how my world looks like, but I'm not sure about the finer details in a few places.)

So, enough of my ranting. I'd like to know what you guys have done, or what you guys think. I'm sure a lot of you are working on (or have finished) your own fantasy books. Are you considering making a map? What factors contributed to your decision? As always, I'd love to know.

No comments:

Post a Comment