A Writing Journey

Posts tagged ‘maps’


Stories evolve. Fairytales are adapted and changed to suit a new audience. Urban legends grow into horror stories. This changing is a natural occurrence – not unlike aging. As writers we know that stories evolve drastically in their early lives as we fight to make them fit for another person to read. Even once we thought the story had reached it’s final stage, there may be a surprise evolution waiting in the wings.

I took QFS down to it’s bones over the summer and have been building it back up ever since. There have been many adjustments, largest of which is who the antagonist is. Other changes include relationships between characters, personalities, secrets and revelations, motives, and character names. I’ve also changed the title. The Cartographer’s Quest is more grown up and less black and white than it’s earlier versions.

In addition to these changes, I’ve been working on more maps for the story (after all, what cartographer wouldn’t include maps in their tale?).  Below are a couple examples of what I’ve been working on.




Idea spark

So, I’m reading a really great book (seriously – I can’t wait to read more tomorrow!) and in this book the author included drawings of important things in the book. Personally, I love it and think it is a fantastic idea. And it made me think about my book.

My main character is a cartographer and she is traveling to new areas of the world. As such, it would be great to include her maps in the story, rather than just at the front of the book. Problem is – I’m not the greatest artist. I love the semi-realistic look of a lot of maps in fantasy novels – the ones that have shading and some 3-D looking aspects. My maps are totally flat.

What I’m asking here is: does anyone have a good resource to learn the sort of drawing I’m talking about?




Perhaps you remember some of my early posts in which I shared maps of Lacey’s world,  maps that showed the world’s evolution (and in ways the plot’s evolution as well). I’ve been living in that world since I first set eyes on it back in 2010. It’s time I take a break. I don’t anticipate that it will be a long break (as the stories still demand to be told), but I need something to get me excited about writing again.

And how,  you ask,  will I regain my enthusiasm? By creating something new.  I know Lacey’s world inside and out – I need to discover a new place so that I can reinvigorate my creativity.

The following is a map that I sketched today.  I like to start with maps,  because the layout and shape of land give me ideas for the stories that happen there.


I can’t leave things unlabeled,  so for now I’m calling it “New World” (about the most unoriginal thing I could think of!) And I’m going from there.

Do you use maps to begin stories, or let the story shape the map? What is your opinion on maps in books?

Take care.

Evolution of the World

A very good writer-friend of mine said that he doesn’t like spending too much time in any one of his worlds for fear that they will become stale. I disagree with this sentiment. The more time you spend with a particular world, the more it develops, the more it becomes real. This has been especially true with my World. In particular, it has been especially true for a segment of my world: the Ibvailyn Empire.

The Empire started as a collection of territories that were collectively called The Unified Regions of the Far North, and they were not the Empire, but under Imperial rule that originated further south. As I changed the plot of my story and changed the names of places, I had to change the setting as well. It no longer made sense for the URFN to be struggling against an empire, especially since their own culture was the predominate one! And so I changed the name, though the landscape remained the same.


Of course, the landscape would have to change too. I didn’t need the Desert anymore (the yellow circle on the map above) because it no longer had a purpose. Besides, this nation is so far north that they need all the farm land they can get – the Desert would hinder their self-sufficiency. And what about the rest of the continent, to the east and south? I hadn’t even given it much thought before new story ideas began coming to me, and I knew how the rest of that world needed to be shaped. So entered Salvyn and Koreiy, the two other nations on the continent of Ilvern, both under Ibvailyn rule.


This is one of the most recent formulations of what the continent looks like.

As I mentioned in my World Origins post, there were eight continents in a circle when I first began developing the World. The area in which those continents resided was called the Taruin (since changed to Ilvern).

World 3 - Copy

But I had to ask myself, what was the point of having so many little nations when this is the backwater of the World, when most of my stories either take place in the Ibvailyn Empire itself, or across the whole World? And so I cut nations. It is something that has to be done. To develop a world, you have to be willing to make sacrifices and changes.


Change Ilvern I did. The Far Continent (the one on the left-hand side of the map) was one of the biggest changes throughout my process. I started with three nations on the one continent, took it down to two, and have since returned it to three. Those nations are Milbern, Lador, and Arad (though on this map it is still called Kadarlay). One of the additions was the three islands in the bottom right corner, called Safe Waters. Those islands are a haven for a group of people that have been persecuted for their type of magic. The island off the coast of Ilvern is still called Djacau, though I have renamed it Djare since drawing this map.

There are other changes to the rest of the World that I’ve made as I work more.

World 3

World 1

World 2

The World

As I’ve worked, I’ve made additions and cuts quite freely. Creating a world is about experimentation until you get what you really want. That’s what I’ve done over the past few years. I’ve drawn countless maps of the World and parts of it, some in color some in pen and pencil only. It’s a process, and it isn’t always an easy one. And that is why I disagree with what my friend said. My World hasn’t become stale. Every change enriches the whole place. If I didn’t spend as much time as I have in this particular world, I would have given up on the stories that take place there a long time ago, simply because they didn’t quite fit. But taking the time to develop a world means changing it over and over until you are satisfied, until it works.

Take care, fellow travelers.

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