by Nick Normal
One thing that I have been needing to consider at a deeper level as I work on my novel is the layout of the land. As my characters are moving throughout the world what is land they cover like? Do they wade through the marshlands? Climb the mountains? Explore the darkness of the deep?
To that end I’ve been exploring the idea of making a map to go along with the narrative. Not only for my own benefit, but also for the benefit of my readers. I’m sure you can think of as many books as I can that has a map to go along with the lore: Lord of the Rings, Inheritance Saga, the Belgariad, Wheel of Time, etc. And each time I have greatly appreciated being able to visualize the distance and types of land that the story leads you through. It definitely gives me a better appreciation for how far things are.
To that end I’ve been investigating layout options for my world and how to divide the different types of biomes involved. While I do have some idea of where my cities are located and what types of people groups and creatures the characters will encounter but I have yet to nail down the visual layout of the map.
So, I began to wonder. Are there resources that can help you to create the maps you want for situations you need. Whether you just want to create a map for fun, use it for the story you are working on, or even for a campaign that can be used in Dungeons and Dragons, a software to help with the creation process would go a long way.
I actually did come across a website that lists a few different map creation software. Some of them are free and others do have a price but all seemed to be a worthwhile resource to investigate and possibly invest in. The link to the website is here: Map Software.
One other thing I have found about having a map to go along with the stories is that it helps me visualize a living and breathing world. While a character might be running over to the east trying to slay a dragon, another nation in the west could be summoning militia to invade another nation. The people in the different cities still have lives that move unaffected by the person(s) that the story surrounds and having a map helps me to keep those things in mind.
What about you? Do you prefer books with or without a map? Why or why not?
Let me know what you think. I look forward to hearing from you soon.
Grace and Peace