Alphabet Blogging: M is for

Maps. 1097823_76380186 Ever since I first opened up The Lord of the Rings, to be greeted by a beautifully detailed map of Middle Earth, I’ve been in love with maps in books. Even before that, though, while I never did much with maps, I still liked looking at them. To me, a map has always signaled adventure, someone heading out into the great unknown, relying solely on a piece of paper to guide them. As much as I’m grateful for technology (I’d never get anywhere without my trusty GPS!), it just doesn’t have the same feeling. As I started writing, I started making my own maps of my worlds. I recall spending over 10 hours at one point, faithfully recreating one of my fantasy world maps on a frail piece of rice paper my grandma (an artist) had given me. I used a dipped-ink calligraphy pen and signed it ‘Cartographer’s Apprentice’. At some point, I discovered maps were more than just pretty additions to books. If I had a hard time keeping track of where characters were at during, say, a raid, or a heist, I started sketching out quick maps to help me get a handle on the layout of the area. I often still do this, especially for a scene where multiple characters are moving around a lot. It helps to keep them from magically teleporting from one side of the room to the other, or ghosting through each other. Do you like to use maps to help you keep track of characters?


About H. A. Titus

H. A. Titus is usually found with her nose in a book or spinning story-worlds in her head. Her love affair with fantasy began at age twelve, when her dad handed her The Lord of the Rings after listening to it on tape during a family vacation. Her stories have been published in Digital Dragon Magazine, Residential Aliens Magazine, and four anthologies: Alternative Witness; Avenir Eclectia Volume 1; The Tanist's Wife and Other Stories; and Different Dragons Volume II. In December 2013, her short story "Dragon Dance" won Honorable Mention in a Writers of the Future contest. She lives on the shores of Lake Superior with her meteorologist husband and young son, who do their best to ensure she occasionally emerges into the real world. When she's not writing, she can be found rock-climbing, skiing, or hanging out at her online home, hatitus.wordpress.com.

7 comments on “Alphabet Blogging: M is for

  1. I do this all the time, especially during fight scenes that are smaller than huge battles but bigger than a one on one duel. I sketch out a quick area map with stick figures and arrows to show how each character moves so I don’t have them bumping into each other or getting in each other’s way (unless I want that to happen). I also tend to make maps of my story world. It helps me keep places in perspective while characters are travelling.

  2. Maps are absolutely essential for my writing and always have been. Much of the need for STAR TREK (or mostly, its more dedicated fans) to reconcile contradictions between travel times and travel velocities is that the writers didn’t create maps first. I was doing better than that at the age of eleven, thanks to maps – real star maps, or at first star charts with three-dimensional positions of stars and three-dee trigonometry giving me the distances between stars.

  3. I use my very crudely drawn maps often. Mary Elizabeth Hall took my awful sketch and turned it into a beautiful map for my book — I can’t wait to show it to you all! And it’s come in handy in the writing of book two. It helps keep track of timelines, especially when characters have to travel back and forth between countries.

  4. Sometimes I have had great “luck of the draw” playing around with photos on Paint Shop Pro, using certain graphic and coloring tools. My map of the vast City of Geopolis, the capital of the interstellar Kingdom of Ariel which Alain Harper represents, came out of such playing around. I have mountains, plains, a high plateau, a vast natural-artificial harbor, and everything.

    The District is a Golden Rectangle and the City is a square at the top. And the scale? As I recall the District including the City is 1000 by 1618 kilocubits. Yes, it’s that big, but most of it isn’t “built-up area”. It’s nature well-kept.

    • Sorry, that’s 1000 x 618 kilocubits! 🙂 Still quite large, depending on how big your cubit is. If it’s a cubit of 525mm, such as the Egyptian royal cubit – and in all likelihood the old cubit of Israel as well – was, well, you can “do the math”. 😀 The proportions wouldn’t follow latitude and longitude lines in great circles, obviously!

  5. Yes, if I find myself wondering whether I’m describing things accurately / consistently, I’ll put together a rough map to keep things straight. I have yet to write a story where I wanted to include a map for the reader, but certainly it could happen. 🙂

    Timelines are really helpful, too, especially with the stories I do in the lycanthrope world where the lunar cycle is mentioned frequently.

  6. Not being seasoned as you are, I do agree that maps I’ve seen in the writings of others, is a mental help for me. It puts the aspects of storylines in perspective. It is a visual journey whether good or bad. It triggers something in the wind.

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