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Which Maps to Make?

Discussion in 'World Building' started by BWFoster78, Aug 27, 2013.

  1. BWFoster78

    BWFoster78 Mythic Scribe

    I know a lot of people enjoy making maps of their world. Not me. Every hour I spend on it is an hour I'm not spending writing or editing. Additionally, my understanding is that I have to pay a fee to Amazon for every book that I sell that is based on file size. More graphics mean a bigger size and more money.

    However, I feel that maps are important in that it shows the reader the world so much more efficiently than words can. Not all readers look at them, but, for those that do, it really adds something.

    Basically, I'm trying to figure out what maps I need.

    My world features three kingdoms and "tribal" lands. All the action takes place in one duchy in one of the three kingdoms. The other two kingdoms and the tribal lands are mentioned.

    I think that, at the very least, I need a map showing the kingdom where the action takes place in relation to the other kingdoms and the tribal lands.

    I think it would also benefit the reader to see a bit of detail in the duchy where the action takes place. Here's how I see my choices:

    1. Show all the three kingdoms and the tribal lands with very few details.
    2. Show just the main kingdom with the borders to the other places clearly marked with little detail.
    3. Show just the main kingdom with the borders to the other places clearly marked but with a lot of detail.

    If I go with option 3, I have to invest a lot of time in determining the geography outside the main duchy - river and town names, roads, etc. Each choice I make places a limitation on me for my future books.

    If I go with choices 1 or 2, I could add a map of just the duchy with details. I've already developed all the important geography.

    I'm kinda leaning toward choice 2 with the extra map. The kingdom map would look sorta like a US map with the duchies shown like the states. I'd only mark major rivers, geographical features, and capital cities. The break out view of the one duchy then would fit well in the overall.

    I'm also leaning toward not doing any city maps. In total, the heroes spend time in 5 towns that are named. Of these, it would serve no use to provide maps for three of them. If I did include map(s) of cities, here are the best choices:

    C1. Asherton. The heroes spend a third of the book here, and a major battle takes place. The book mentions a lot of city details and locations. Showing an overview of the castle and city may be worth it, though it would be a lot of work.

    C2. Eagleton. The heroes are from here. It doesn't play a huge role in the sense of a battle, and I don't feel the reader would benefit much from directions. However, future books will feature this city more.

    What would you do? I appreciate any thoughts, tips, and advice.


  2. Graylorne

    Graylorne Shadow Lord

    I have one general map in my Dutch books.

    For the English books I took the lazy way out and didn't use them. There is a link in the book to my website, and I put the maps there.
    That is much more flexible, you can add or remove them, change them at will, etc.
  3. BWFoster78

    BWFoster78 Mythic Scribe

    Interesting, but I don't think that's what I want. The hard part seems to me to create the maps, not to get them to the readers. Especially for the POD version, I want them easily available in the book.
  4. Nihal

    Nihal Valar Lord

    It depends on what you consider "little" or "much" detail. Being size bound I would only show the main features of the land (lakes, rivers, mountains), main roads and roads the characters used, cities they visited and capitals. No reigns boundaries, only an indication of to which nation which capital belongs, leaving the details to be sorted inside the book.

    I don't know how to feel about Graylorne's suggestion, but it sounds interesting. Perhaps a smaller map, simple and a link to a bigger, more detailed map?

    Also, tips about size:

    1. Make it black and white.

    2. Don't include it bigger than needed; it won't go to print, so, don't scale it down to when including in your raw file, downsize beforehand in a image editor and include it in the right size already.

    3. Choose the file format wisely. I don't know which images formats can be converted without hassle, so you'll have to check, but I bet it's jpg, gif and png. That means that depending on how your map is one or other will be best indicated. A black and white gif will probably look good and will be lightweight, however, sometimes an optimized png is even lighter.

    If it has too many colors or gradients a jpg will look better, in this case, if you're using Photoshop to edit the image to save use the "Save for Web..." option and tweak the quality there, while previewing the size and how it'll look. Better and lighter file.

    4. Not only images increase the size. From what I've read the ebook is basically an HTML file, isn't it? And many programs generate the code automatically... Automatic coding usually means bad coding, ghost tags, unnecessary spaces... In a single page it'll barely matter, but in a whole book it will add to the size. It's worthy a code revision.
    Last edited: Aug 27, 2013
    BWFoster78 likes this.
  5. CupofJoe

    CupofJoe Valar Lord

    I am a cartophile, I drool at a good map and pour over atlases and OS maps as bedtime reading...
    If you don't love making maps then less-is-more. A single colour line drawing showing the salient features and their relationship to each other is usually fine. It would also be smaller [image-wise] than something full colour with textures and shading.
    If you need wiggle room on geography later on, making the maps from a PoV can be useful. A trading route map will differ from a religiously inspired map in content as the needs are not the same. For example a trading map may have rivers that just end at a town [because if you can't get a boat any further upstream then who cares where it goes] and a religious map may have huge blank areas where the "heathen" live; etc.
    Also a map made from horseback will not be the same as from one drawn by a walker... neither will be accurate and you can leave or add things as needs sees fit [hills are less important to someone on a horse than someone on foot but rough ground more so].
    Personally unless the urban geography is essential to tie down, I'd leave out the city maps. I've seen some that look wonderful but very few that have helped expand the story.
    There is nothing worse than a bad map...
    Asura Levi and BWFoster78 like this.
  6. WooHooMan

    WooHooMan Dark Lord

    I made dozens of different maps for my setting but I didn't like any of them. Then I made a symbolic map and it worked perfectly.

    Personally, I don't get too bent out of shape over where thing are exactly as long as I have some idea like what direction something is or how long it would take to travel there (like would it take days or hours to get there). If you want to make maps, I think I'd reccomend drawing more than one map. Maybe one for each kingdom or specific places or trails. Basically, which ever area you think you'll need a map for.
    Last edited: Aug 27, 2013
  7. BWFoster78

    BWFoster78 Mythic Scribe

    From the comments, I'm getting that y'all advise the following:

    A single map of the kingdom (I think it important to note the borders of the other places.)
    Broad details only - rivers, mountains, big cities
    I'll include Eagleton and one other town just for clarity so the reader can follow the heroes' journey

    Is that accurate?


  8. ThinkerX

    ThinkerX Mythic Scribe

    Sounds about right. Sounds real close to a lot of the print maps in the old line fantasies. Some of those were almost 'text maps', with the only non-keyboard symbols being the coastlines and rivers. All other features - cities, mountains, forests, swamps, and what not were done with regular, unmodified keyboard symbols. ( ' ^^^ ' for mountains, ' -"- ' for swamp, ' *** ' for forest, and '#' for larger cities. Some of them used repeated ' ~~~~ ' for ocean / water areas.) I used to make quite a few text maps...in fact, hanging on the wall behind me is a (badly outdated) text map of my primary world, using a projection which takes into account the curvature of the planets surface.

    I also did a lot of hand drawn maps; on the shelf next to me is a large three ring binder 'map book' of my other major world...also badly outdated.

    Yes, I used to spend far too much time making maps.

    I recently set out to make up a few 'current' maps of my world, using MSPaint. Because these are not high detail versions, the results were acceptable.
    BWFoster78 likes this.
  9. Devor

    Devor Fiery Keeper of the Hat Moderator

    I would love to open a book and see a map of a tiny little village, with nothing outside the borders but a whirling mass with dragon heads, like they used to have to mark the end of the ocean.

    That's neither here nor there.

    How many pages is the book? I would say for a first book, more than one is unnecessary. GRRM doesn't give us a map of Winterfell or Tolkein a map of Minas Tirith.
  10. Steerpike

    Steerpike Felis amatus Moderator

    I personally don't care whether a book has a map or not, and I wouldn't necessarily get hung up on making one. You might find the article linked below interesting. I agree with the quote posted from Robert Bennett:

    The author of the article doesn't take quite so strident a view: Offering World Building Info Outside of a Story
    SKAndal likes this.

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