At The Next Dwarf Mine Turn Left.

I came across this great article by Roberta Osborn called How to Create A Map For Your Novel. It is very cool and I strongly recommend to those of you who are fantasy or sci-fi writers and may be considering drawing a map, that you follow the link.

Two other articles that I found are from Fantasy Faction and a low-tech video.

When writing Wycaan Master, I never thought to draw a map. Only when I began to write a sequel and realized that I had to keep my characters following a certain geographical framework did I consider making one.

Given that I have no artistic talent, and that my son who helped me write and edit, better understands which end of a pencil is which, I charged him with the task. Being of prime pre-teen material, he refused. In the ensuing negotiation, we agreed to tackle it together.

We went through the manuscript and highlighted every change in direction, every named mountain range and forest. He then took a piece of paper and began to draw. We were soon off the page and took another piece of paper and, utilizing cutting-edge technology, taped the two pages together. They soon blossomed into several pages at unruly angles one to the other, with absolutely no way the map could be folded.

it was clearly destined to be crumpled, torn, and otherwise abused. Today, it sits somewhere in our humble abode under a pile of mutually discarded papers that are not yet quite trash-worthy. It is a tragic tale.

As I look through the articles above, I am struck with a series of questions for those who read epic fantasy. Remember, that I am new, if enthusiastic, to the genre. If you have the energy please answer any or all of the following questions.

1) Do you look at a map at the beginning of a fantasy novel? If so, how much do you study it?

2) Do you refer back to the map as you read the book?

3) Is there any room in epic fantasy for a GPS?

Answers to the first two questions will be greatly appreciated.

Have a great weekend,



Alon Shalev is the author of The Accidental Activist and A Gardener’s Tale. He has written two fantasy novels and the first has reached the Quarter Finals of  the Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award as of March 2012. More on Alon Shalev at on Twitter (@elfwriter).

14 comments on “At The Next Dwarf Mine Turn Left.

  1. Dracos_Hellpain says:

    I have a certain love for geographics and find it important to study the map before reading the novel. Not learn it by heart (although that is pretty cool) but just know more or less where everything is. Yes, sometimes I do refer back to the map. A GPS can be used, for me, as well as a map. In the epic I am writing it is a world fused with medieval weaponry of runeblades, bows, spears with more modern weapons such as rifles, auto target-acquiring cannons and various missiles. You could say the elves, with more traditional weapons, use maps and the more advanced race a GPS

  2. Grace says:

    Personally, I love maps – of both real and fictional places. If there’s a map in a novel I’m reading, I refer to it often. If it’s at the front of a book, I’ll look at it first, but if it’s at the back of the book, I may not notice it until part-way through the book (unless it’s listed in a table of contents).
    I’m currently writing a fantasy novel, and very early on in the story, I found that I needed a map for myself, just to make sure I was consistent with where the characters were traveling; so I then decided that the finished product would need a map, for sure.

  3. J.D. says:

    Actually, yes, i must admit, I do refer to maps in fantasy books, before and during the reading. I lament many publishers have opted not to include them, these days.

  4. kate says:

    Yeah, if there is a map I always helps to have an idea of what the writer had in mind when they are thinking about their setting. And yes I refer back while I am reading, just to keep it all in context.
    GPS??? Well its your story, so why the hell not???

  5. ddfalvo says:

    As a potential buyer, I look at the map to gauge how appealing the world is. As a reader, I track the map because it helps me envision what the scenes look like beyond a string of words that float in my head. As an author, I rely on my maps to keep my own story straight so I don’t tell lies. lol.

  6. Lari Don says:

    I think I’m in the minority then, because I never look at maps in books! I love maps in real life, when I’m visiting new cities or climbing hills, but I don’t feel I need them in a book, because I trust the writer, and the characters, to lead me through the story. I worry now if that makes me very passive as a reader! However as a writer of fantasy adventures (for kids) I use maps all the time – not published in my books, because I like to keep the locations of some of my magic secret, but when I’m writing. I buy maps of all my real locations, and refer to them as I write (as well as visiting the locations) and for my imaginary locations, I create careful maps and charts, mostly to check that the action I’m writing is possible in the space I’m creating with my words. Perhaps it’s because I know I make sure my stories work in the world I create that I trust other writers have done the same and don’t feel the need to check?

  7. […] Martin believes that maps are very important. I have talked about them in this blog before, but he confirms the necessity. It was important enough, he notes, to be at the beginning […]

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  10. Jane Grenfell says:

    I love maps! Study then before I begin and anticipate the journey, then refer to them quite a bit when reading. Your friend Mr GRR knows the value if a good map!

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