Newbie Blogger Initiative 2016 – Cartography of a Fantasy World




See, you can post about anything for #NBI2016

I wanted to do something different this morning and take a look at map making!!!  Didn’t you ever draw a secret treasure map when you were a kid?  Map making is fun but it can be a huge challenge and pain point for writers who want to depict their world to the audience.

Technically I’m wrong in calling it “Map Making” which I pulled this from the definition off of Wikipedia.

“Cartography (from Greek χάρτης khartēs, “map”; and γράφειν graphein, “write”) is the study and practice of making maps. Combining science, aesthetics, and technique, cartography builds on the premise that reality can be modeled in ways that communicate spatial information effectively”

Personally I’ve always enjoyed making maps for any of the stories I’ve written but that doesn’t mean I didn’t have frustrations that came along while making them.  Creating a map for a fictional world is one of the most satisfying things you can do, as it gives you a greater idea and visual reference to what your world really looks like.  All those ideas floating around in your head about this magical world is only a pen and paper away. Creating a map on paper is one of the best ways for a writer to connect to their world as it allows you to see the geography of the land, and best thing is it’s yours so customize how you see fit.

I’m not a published writer “Yet” but that is something I am diligently working on as I have a fantasy novel series that’s in the making. This epic story is currently four years in the works and map making has been a huge piece of depicting this piece of fantasy.  The worst part about writing when you have a map for reference is when you go back and realize you’ve missed a great detail of location specifics in the story.  It’s one of those oops moments you get when writing and the questions begin to pop about why didn’t I look at this closer, or why did I write location A when it really should have been location B the war took place.

Frequent reference to your map can be one of the greatest tools in the bag for you as a writer.  Stumped on where your hero was supposed to end up, check the map and maybe it will turn a flickering light bulb into a bright spotlight of an idea.  The uses for a map from a writers perspective are to help bring the story to life, and give the geography of what you have in your head a visual presence for you and the reader.

Mapping a world isn’t a set style and there really isn’t anything you can do that is wrong or would break some hidden rule of map making.  Take a look at the visual style of the following map.  Probably one of the most famous fantasy worlds ever created to date.


I don’t think their will ever be another world quite like what Tolkien created with Middle Earth, but that’s not to say we can’t get some inspiration off of the beautiful world he created.

Another famous author and amazing story with a vast beautiful map is Narnia.  Both C.S Lewis and Tolkien had grand creative minds and each with their own flair for map making.


Now a quick look at a rough draft for one of my maps I created.  It’s nowhere finished and doesn’t have the flare or prestige either of the maps above do.  The world I’m creating is for the novel series I spoke about earlier.

This is the first time I’ve ever let anyone look at one of the early rough drafts of one of my maps.  This one is still in the works and it’s ever changing at times with new places and grows as I continue to write this novel.

Welcome to Ardonia – The main world of my novel series Brothers Three

Map (2)


How do I get started map making…..?

  • Have fun and CREATE
    • First and foremost have fun with it and allow it to be something that sparks creativity for you and your story.  Don’t let it become a burden or you will be overwhelmed and quit pretty quickly through frustration.  It’s easy to try and be a perfectionist when creating a map for anything so don’t be afraid to have multiple versions, drafts, copies, and let the map be something that could continually grow and change just as a real world does.
  • Take Risks
    • Don’t be afraid to develop something that doesn’t work the first time around.  Remember things have a natural process for development and as you write and grow the story, your map may continue to grow with it.  Don’t get stuck in one style of box….have a bunch of them and hop in and out whenever you want.
  • Create the Foundation
    • Every world has a center of attention.  What is your’s?  What are the major cities, towns, and locations on your map?  You have to start somewhere so why not start with a basic list of cities and towns.
  • Land Development & Growth
    • Anything you create will always be a work in progress of sorts.  As I mentioned above the land mass you create will have a natural development process and a free flow but you have to allow for that space and development to happen.  Have some places in your world that aren’t mapped out per say….maybe it’s a discovery point later on in the story and a new map get’s released. Just sayin.
  • Features of the World
    • This is a very complex piece of map making, as you not only have to think about the geography of the land, but the type of surroundings, climate, cultures, race of inhabitants etc.  Do you have a town with a unique culture that stands out from the rest, or maybe a deserted location locked away with dark secrets.  The possibilities are limitless of how you carve the land and features of this world.


Have fun creating your world and enjoy the development of how the characters of the story interact with their surroundings. Go checkout some of your favorite fantasy / sci-fi novels and begin to explore their worlds as it will help you get a perspective of what to do for your map.




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