Thursday, May 10, 2012

A Map is All You Need!

No fantasy book is complete without a Map. It’s your invitation to go places, and explore. Not to mention it is very handy for making sure it takes the proper amount of time to get from point A to point B... something I am a little, erm, obsessive about.

So how does one go about making a Map? Good question! I suspect I might enroll myself in some cartography classes (or hire a cartographer) eventually, but for now, this is how I'm going about making the map for my Phoenix Trilogy.

Rough Sketch
It all started with an idea. I wrote the very first book with no map at all, but when I got to revising for posting on Protagonize I needed a map to figure out timing. So, I made this rough sketch of what I thought Vervell and part of Azure looked like.

When I got to revising the second book, I needed something more. My map had no scale, and I needed more detail. Thus this, my second, and more detailed, version was born!

Detailed Sketch
Then I got into these whole world building exercises and found a link to some web pages about building a planet, which emphasizes there really aren’t planets of sand or forests or ice (Bonus 1).

One of the other points in the world building was that maps don’t have to be free handed. One way is to trace old maps, so I bought myself a World Atlas. I wish I could have the one I used to pour over when growing up, but the one I bought isn’t bad. It’s on the environmental side, but that means it has useful world maps, that show currents and climates.

Then I got to talking with Charley. We’ve always had a sense that our Phoenix and Aeserion trilogies take place on the same world. Both trilogies are set in a similar era of human evolution. And then there was the character invasions of each other’s plots in the third books, without thought to continuity! Anyway, I offered to layout her world of Cumnor and my world of Videra on one map.

Charley's Sketch
So this April, after Charley sent me this lovely sketch, and a barrage of email exchanges, I got out my tracing paper and atlas. Using one of the world maps, I began tracing land boarders and country boarders, mixing and matching, reversing and inverting, until I was relatively happy with the result.

After some more e-mails and some reconsiderations of the amount of water necessary, I finally have... The Map!

I’m still figuring it out – I’ve got the currents (dark blue lines in the ocean), mountain ranges (the grey/silver lines on the land), and major lakes and rivers (landlocked blue obviously). Now I need to work on climates and vegetation cover.

The Map!
Cumnor is solely Charley’s territory. She is the overlord supreme and is tackling at least four countries with, I don’t know how many, deities. (Bonus 2)

Videra is mine. Since Sarah’s from the USA Midwest, I felt the need to turn her world even more upside down, so Vervell,  Azure and the Areni Plains are actually located in the southern hemisphere and a mirror image from before. I, however, have stuck with two Gods for the entire continent. (Bonus 3)

The Pontus Isles, and Draconia are collaborative territories. They may or may not feature in our novels. Yet, they are there, just waiting for a mischievous Demi-God (or two) to set things in motion. The lonely Apanati Islands, however, are mine. I have a lament to write, which I intend to set there. (Bonus 4)

Now if you’ve been wondering what those Bonuses are... Well they are questions for you to answer.
  1. What is the names of the ‘planets’ I reference and what universe do they belong to? – 4 possible points
  2. Where is the Errion and Skatha Peninsula located, and what parts of the world did I use for this continent – 2+ possible points
  3. Where is Azure, Vervell and the Areni Plains located and what parts of the world did I use for this continent? – 2+ possible points
  4. What parts of the world did I use for these Island groups? – 4 possible points

E-mail me your answers (elorithryn at gmail dot com) by June 1st. The person with the most points gets to choose one prize from the list below. I’ll let you know the results in my June 6th post, though I'll e-mail the winner asking for their preference.
  • A scaled sketch of your map
  • Editing on up to 2,000 words of prose
  • A guest blog post on you blog (you pick the topic)
  • Post as a guest on my blog
  • Pick a topic for me to blog about


  1. Ahahahaha, I nearly died laughing at the sight of my old rough sketch! Still, at least the highlighters made it look kinda pretty :P

    Also, as I know the answers to nearly all of these anyway, I won't enter ze contest ... but I look forward to seeing entries from those who do! :)

    1. You should - I'll just give a handicap for knowing at least 4 of them. Just so, you know, I have at least one entry... *grins*

  2. Wow, I love your giant map! How cool is that?! I don't write fantasy, but what with this post and Charley's awesome post on swordlore, it makes me want to create my own fantasy world. Maybe for my next novel, if I can get a plot idea worked out. ;) In the meantime, let me just say I love your map(s)! Awesomesauce. :)

    1. Thank you *blush* Fnatasy plot isn't as hard as you think it might be. Okay world building is hard but fun, but if you do try it, you know Charley and I will help you. :}

      And please enter the contest. There's more than just maps for prizes. *grins*

    2. Awesome, I'll keep the offer in mind. ;) And I'll definitely consider entering!

    3. Please do, I don't seem to have a single entry yet. :}

  3. This makes me want a map. But unfortunately, my books are mainly set in the present day world. The fairy world is a little different though, so I could probably map that out some time. Something I've got stewing in my brain at the moment (which will have to WAIT, I have three other novels I'm editing) could feasibly be in another world, if I could be bothered to work it all out.

    1. Well if you ever need a Map of the Fairy world, or one for a world of your own imagining, and don't want to do it yourself, you know how to find me.
      Though given your art background, you'd probably do fine on your own. :}