Maps In Fantasy Writing

As most of you know, I’m currently in the planning phase for National Novel Writing Month. The story I’m writing takes place in the forest with the protagonist going on a journey. As I mentioned yesterday, I figured this meant I should draw up a map of his journey. After all, how is the reader going to know where the character is heading if I don’t know.

Before I drew out my map, though, I went to Michaels and bought some proper paper.  Even if no one would ever see the map, I still liked the idea of drawing it on “special” paper.  I’m sure Diane can relate.  Last night I started a first draft of the map on regular white printer paper.  I’m happy with it so far.

I recommend sketching up a map to anyone who is planning this type of story. It doesn’t have to be artistic. It could be stick figures and trees or even just words such as “forest”, “farm”, “mountains”, and “castle”. The quality isn’t important. What’s important is that it forces you to look at “the big picture” of the story. With this “journey” type of story your map can almost be a outline in itself with a starting point, a middle, and a destination.

Making this map helped me realize that I don’t have enough conflict/hardship set up for my characters. No one wants to read about a guy going for a stroll in the woods. They’d rather read about a guy running for his life from a radioactive gerbil hell-bent on reading him the epic tale of Dick and Jane. Maybe that last bit is just me, but you get the idea.

Anyhow, I’ll scan my map and post it here when it’s finished.  Anyone else creating maps or sketching characters as part of their NaNoWriMo planning?