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Sense of Direction

Discussion in 'Writing Discussions' started by Androxine Vortex, Oct 16, 2015.

  1. Androxine Vortex

    Androxine Vortex Archmage

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    I just realized that i haven't laid out a definitive map of my world and i don't know if I'm going to. Think of books like Harry potter. You never really new where Hogwarts was in relation to other places but you kept reading as it wasn't detrimental to understand the plot. Would not having a map bother you? Would you feel lost or be okay with not knowing exactly where everything is as long as the plot can be understood without knowing.
     
  2. Heliotrope

    Heliotrope Staff Article Team

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    George RR Martin admitted to never creating a map. He said he just wrote the book and created all the towns and cities as he went along. The map took him half an hour after he had started the series.
     
  3. Russ

    Russ Istar

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    I enjoy a map when I get one, I don't miss it when it is not there.

    I don't think you should worry about it unless it is crucial to your way of story telling. If you use specific times/speeds/directions etc when describing travel from named places, and you do it a fair bit, it might be a good idea to have a map to keep you organized. If your travel/distance descriptions are more nebulous you really don't need one.
     
  4. Penpilot

    Penpilot Staff Article Team

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    Maps are neat bonuses, but honestly, I only glance over them once or twice. I read ASOIF and never really looked at the maps. I got a sense of direction and distance all from the text, and never once did I feel lost. Same goes for the genealogy charts.
     
  5. What's a map?
     
  6. Miskatonic

    Miskatonic Auror

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    A map helps me plan out a lot of the travels of different characters, the amount of time they move from place to place, among other things.

    I find it a really helpful tool.
     
  7. Androxine Vortex

    Androxine Vortex Archmage

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    Yeah i can understand it might be helpful to the writer there's no question about that. I plan on making a (horribly drawn) map for just reference, but i don't think I'm planning on putting it in the actual book itself.
     
  8. Miskatonic

    Miskatonic Auror

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    Given the detail is given in the prose, the writer can describe the environments and the places explored without having to worry about having to use the description to create a map like picture in the reader's head. So thankfully maps aren't essential or even necessary in most cases.
     
  9. CupofJoe

    CupofJoe Myth Weaver

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    Maps are useful if the journey is important.
    Much fantasy can feel like a road movie, so it helps to know the road. A map can help with that.
    If travelling [or the perils of such] isn't a feature of your story, then the exact relationship between places becomes less important.
    I love a good map [JRRT set the bar pretty high I think - I have a framed map of the Lonely Mountain from The Hobbit on my wall] but two of my favourite writers didn't use them at first and one not at all.
     
  10. spectre

    spectre Sage

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    Time and place is all really about the pressure and relief of where your character is at and making sure you send them to relevant places even if it's ip a staircase into a belfry. Think the Game of Clue or Poltergeist. Someone has a candlestick in the library, we don't know who! and in Poltergeist two main places were in a TV and a cemetary that had been destroyed. Just give your places substance then map them out if you want or the other way around. Whatever seems right.
     
  11. K.S. Crooks

    K.S. Crooks Inkling

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    I fins a map more useful in my writing than in my reading. Having a map when I write helps me determine the route and mode of transportation my characters would most likely choose and gives me an estimate of the time it would take them to make their journey to a new place. A map also helps me to create new scenarios/obstacles for the characters along the way or figure out good places for them to rest or gather items.

    As a reader I like to have one to see the entire world if the story is focused on one or two countries. I also find it useful when their is a lot of action in an enclosed maze-like structure. I think personal I have always liked maps since first reading The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe, which has a map of Narnia and some of the other nations in that world.

    Bottom line, do what makes you happy.
     
  12. Maps are essential to me, both when I read and when I write.

    Fantasy stories take us to incredible, and often times, completely made up places. You wouldn't go on vacation to a place you've never been before without some sort of road map. For me, the same goes with stories. When I write, I like to have a map, though crudely drawn, next to me, so I know where places are and how events can relate to each other. It helps my writing flow better. I need to be able to navigate through a world, even if it's the one I invented, without any trouble.
     
    Miskatonic likes this.
  13. Helen

    Helen Inkling

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    You don't need a map. It's what happens within the location that's important.
     
  14. M P Goodwin

    M P Goodwin Scribe

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    I find maps have three uses;
    A - For marking the territory described so that all can see or at least agree on where the folk have travelled and might yet travel, and indeed so a reader might take their own journey, as they wander through the design.
    B - For distilling the world in the mind of the author, as the act of cartography itself demands a deal of introspection, followed by manifestation.
    C- As art.
    All are valuable in their own right in my view and I have made many maps, geographic and urban...none of which made it to my first novel at all, but all of which make great art to hang on my walls, and add, I hope, to the sense of the world being described to the reader.
    Personally, I love 'em.
     
    spectre likes this.
  15. Miskatonic

    Miskatonic Auror

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    I'm the same. Way easier to get the map completed first. If you finish the book and then have to go back through and see where they actually would have gone, how long it would have taken them, etc., and then try and put that all on a map, it's going to be a nightmare.

    Mentally it's kind of like having a google maps setup where you can start out big and then zoom down little by little for the finer details.
     
  16. Addison

    Addison Auror

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    I've brainstormed plots for a few fantasy works. Some epic, some not. The epic ones are in different worlds but I don't draw out the maps like Middle Earth or Alagaesia. If I get confused or find a problem with the journey then I just list things to the core.
    "So they start in this mountain valley, go up to the snowy craigs, follow the river, then in the river which detours them to the ocean. Caravan to the desert then finally to the plains."
    If I manage to get to a point in that story where I'm close to the end or needing a break then I might start working on an actual map. But it's just for fun. Think about if an actual map is needed or just wanted.
     
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