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Trouble with maps

Hi this is my first post. I'm actually trying to create the next epic fantasy(with the seriousness and realism of Game of Thrones and the magic and complexity of Wheel of Time) but I'm having a major problem with creating the map of my world.

I have most of the symbolism, magic, and history of the world down(benefits of having Asperger's syndrome) but I am having problems attempting to create a map and having it to scale. Does anyone know what would help me.


Hero Breaker
www.cartographersguild.com - a community of people only make fantasy maps. You can either learn from their tutorials or hire many of the members. They make GREAT maps there.

ProFantasy Software - software you can buy for a decent price that creates fantasy maps for you. Not as polished as if you were good with Photoshop or Gimp, but good enough.


Just look at Europe. See that scale? The world of A Game of Thrones (the main continent) is the same length north to south as Iceland to northern Africa. That's pretty big. Middle-earth was much the same size. The shire in England, Gondor in Venice, Mordor in Romania.


You could always not draw a map. Makes things nice and easy.

Tips for considering scale, in particular? Either use the real world as a base, or let your story dictate it and draw the map from that. If it takes your heroes two days by horse to get from Luthia to Rynsied, you can estimate (a) how long a horse can travel for in a day; let's say 50 miles a day, and then (b) how far Luthia and Rynsied are from one another, in this case 100 miles of road. Of course, 100 miles of road =/= 100 miles directly, but if you draw in the roads, you can build a scale based on that. Allowing the story to build the map itself can help a lot in keeping the two cohesive.

If you are having a serious roadblock, though, consider the actual medieval period of our history. Astronomically correct cartography is a (relatively) modern invention. Most maps in the medieval age were... stylized, to say the least. Indeed, it was often scale that they really messed up on. Early cartographers usually drew Japan as very fat and much less vertical than it really is. I have some examples of those sorts of maps on my blog, if you'd consider an alternative.
I've heard several fantasy authors recommend that you don't make your own map. A rough sketch of where various countries are in relation to each other is all you need. From there, just write the story. Later, you can match the map to the story, rather than matching the story to the map.

If you publish, the publisher will worry about the official map.


My advice would be to draw a rough sketch of your world. Unless you already know all the groups of people living in certain countries, just draw the land randomly. Then go over and "place" your people on the different land masses. Then focus on the areas where the majority of the stories take place. In these areas, mark out the cities. If for some reason you realize that you've made your cities to far apart, add in a river to join the places for faster travel, or if the cities are too far apart, add a bog, mountain, dense forest, etc. The best way to draw a map is just start. You will find how easy it can be and how it can inspire you as well.
My experience with maps has been this: you need to re-do them very frequently. When I first started working on one of my novels I drew up this great map. I did it by hand, finished it with pen and ink, drew designs, made it very stylized--and then I started working in earnest on the story. That was when I realized that the map was not adequate or accurate for what my world had become. So, I started another map. It was even more magnificent than the first--I was so proud of it. I thought, "this is publisher-worthy, it's beautiful." I even laminated it. Well, it wasn't that much later that the story had once again evolved beyond the map. I'm actually glad that happened; if the world had stayed limited to what I drew on the paper, it would not be as good as it is now.

Map drawing is a good place to start to help you along--but doing it with a computer program so you could change it easily and frequently will help you a lot.