Monday, September 17, 2007

Map making do

I'm trying to get my head around some of the events in my third Aspect of Crow book, THE REAWAKENED. It has more settings and POV characters than the first two books, and trying to keep everyone's whereabouts straight was driving me mad and wasting time that could be spent writing.

So first order of business: make a map. I love maps, in real life and as a reader. I've never made one as a writer before. I could have put one in VOICE OF CROW, but I didn't want to lock myself into hard-and-fast distances and topographical features that were irrelevant to the earlier books, in case I needed to use them in the last book. For instance, the village of Tiros is mentioned in Books 1&2 but never depicted until Book 3, so I wanted to leave my options open as to its exact location and geography.

Is that cheating? I prefer to think of it as maintaining flexibility. ;-)

Robin D. Owens has made gorgeous maps for her worlds using Fractal Terrain software. I downloaded the demo, but the learning curve was too steep, considering I Need. Maps. Now.

drum roll.....PowerPoint to the rescue! The program's drawing tools were all I needed. It has a lot of AutoShapes that can be made to look like anything:

trees = forests
triangles = mountains
explosions = quarries
purple thought balloons = vineyards
sofas = garrisons

Well, from above, a sofa icon kinda looks like a garrison. Loveseats make great armory outposts.

So here's my unimpressive but highly useful impromptu map, courtesy of PowerPoint:

It's not on the key, but that little star thing is the site of Rhia's Bestowing in EYES OF CROW.

I think it needs more loveseats, don't you?

Writers, do you make maps to help you write, whether or not they'll ever appear in your book? Readers, do you like to have maps to refer to when you read a novel?

UPDATE: I just realized that I need to add another bridge, on the road between Velekos and Asermos. Which works perfectly with the story, actually.

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I, personally, enjoy the added plus of maps but they're certainly not something I expect from writers. I have made maps for places or cities on occasion but they're usually more time consuming than I can commit to. Seeing something through the authors eyes puts a new perspective on the relative area(s). It's definitely a bonus.

Luckily I have a husband who is a graphic/web designer who has more computer and design knowledge than I do. He's always willing to make the maps for me. I knew I married that man for a reason (or 100). :)

Posted by: Anonymous Anonymous at 9/18/2007 3:41 PM

I don't read a lot of fantasy or SF, so I don't see a lot of maps with my fiction. I can usually take or leave them.

Of course, I've been reading comics for 30 years now, so I'm used to getting jerked around as to where Metropolis is.

Posted by: Blogger Rob S. at 9/19/2007 4:35 PM

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