Map Making

I just got mixed up about what week we're on and spent the last two hours or so writing a flash piece for tomorrow, only to realise that's next week and I'm supposed to be posting about map making. Oh well, I suppose that means I've got a head start on next week's to-do list! And I really like the story - you'll be in for a treat next week!

So, back to this week's scheduled post. One of the things that my editor mentioned in his report was that he found it difficult to get a sense of the geography of KalaDene, in part because a lot of the action in this first book takes place over a relatively small space. To put this in context, the main culture in Ashael Rising are hunter-gatherers who have to walk everywhere so it's not enrirely surprising.

However, there is a wider world and that will become very relevant in later books so it was important to give readers a way to envision that geography. A good way to achieve that seemed to be in creating a map. Plus, I do enjoy a good fantasy map.

The problem is, I'm not an artist. At all. I made a feeble attempt to draw a map using Microsoft Paint. While I could manage the landmasses, I couldn't do justice to the symbols of trees and mountains etc.

So I turned to the internet. It turns out there are all sorts of map generators online.

The first one I tried was Fantasy Name Generator's

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This was a bit tricky to get the hang of using but it had so many variations, it was a lot of fun to play around with. In the end, I couldn't get it to edit the way that I wanted it to but the fault was almost certainly with me; I'm not at all tech-savvy.

Next I tried the map generator at Donjon. This one gave me a beautiful map:

Donjon map.png

I loved this map, but it had a problem. In order for the landmass to match the directions that I have in my head - and have mentioned in the book - I had to turn the map on it's side. Which meant that all of the symbols were on their sides. Despite spending a few hours on it, I couldn't figure out a way to edit it to give me what I needed.

I did actually consider going through the book and changing all of the directions to match the map just because it's so pretty. I couldn't quite square that in my mind though. I mean, logically I know that I made up the world of KalaDene and therefore can move things around to suit myself if I want to. But that doesn't feel true. It's more like I discovered KalaDene, fully-formed, in my mind and it's not really mine to play with. I'm not making it up, I'm just telling its story.

So, I tried again.

The last site I turned to was Free Fantasy Maps. It's a great site with many maps available, all free to use both personally and commercially. I had fun looking at them all- some of them even sparked ideas for future stories - and I finally found what I was looking for

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I started off with this map and have made quite a lot of changes - which I'm not going to show you just yet. I ended up with a map that I'm really pleased with but I'm having a few issues with the file size and type so I'm not certain if it's actually going to make it into the finished book.

If I can't resolve the file size issues, I'll set up a page here so that map will be permanently available to readers.

Do you enjoy fantasy maps? Leave a note in the comments!