This post could be hashtagged a variety of ways. #FirstWorldTroubles. #WhinyWriter. #MindOfAWriter. Take your pick.
I have a couple of problems I want to share today related to maps of my worlds.
When I write stories set in the modern world, that world is already pre-defined. If I set a story in Madison or San Diego, I can go to Google maps and look up anything I need to know.
That isn't at all true when writing fantasy and science fiction novels, all of which (at least so far) are set in fictional worlds. And so, I am able to make up all the details I want. Of course, I have a responsibility to make the world as believable as I can, and so they tend to be Earth-like, although certainly not Earth.
In Amazon Companion, I decided that Gallen's Cove was on the west coast of Morehama, with everything else to the east. The Amazons live far to the east and the demons even farther east. The forest runs north-south, as does the mountain range. So far, so good, right?
Except in my head when writing, I have it turned around. I do this quite consistently. I am so accustomed to thinking of the ocean to the east, not the west. I couldn't explain why. I've spent roughly an equal amount of time on each coast (not that much on either), and I live a long, long way from any oceans. But for some reason, in my head, the ocean is to the east, not the west.
Why does this matter?
Well, think about Queen's Town. Thinks about how you might envision it so you could talk about it. I don't know about you, but I think of a map in my head, like I'm sitting near the top of a tree looking in. In my head, that tree is on the south side not far from Malora's hut. In my head, the stable is to the right, and Gallen's Cove is a week's ride past it -- far to the right. Malora's hut is below me and slightly left. Nori's hut is across a small clearing (remember, they are two curved rows of huts), on the same side as the stable. The kitchen and dining hall is further to the left, and the place they go to the river is even further left. To get to the training grounds from my perch in the tree, I would fly over Nori's hut, cutting the corner slightly to my left, travel through the trees a moment or so, then set down in the big field.
Now, that's a textual description, and I probably lost you. So I'll just review.
- I'm in a tree on the south side of the village.
- The stable is to the right -- with Gallen's Cove a long way to the right.
- The demons are to the left.
But remember that Gallen's Cove is west and the demons are east. If you look above, you'll realize in my head, I see it backwards.
You can ask why I didn't just change the story to fit how I see it in my head? Well, I wanted Gallen's Cove to have west coast weather, not east coast weather. That's it.
The solution is simple: I should just draw a map. Then if I reference the map, I should get all my directions right, yes? That's great, and then I can scan the map with a scanner and include it in the books besides, so everyone can have one.
I used to think those maps in books were there for the reader. I think I was wrong. I think they're for the author to keep details right.
So now we come to problem #2. I have a way with words. But if you looked at the map of Privateer, which I spent hours on, you'll see that I don't have a way with drawing. I am particularly poor at it, actually. And I don't really want to publish books with maps in them of the quality I can draw.
So, two problems. I need maps to straighten the details in my head. But my maps are ugly and I don't want to publish them.
If anyone knows of any software that would help me draw maps that aren't ugly, I'd love to hear it. I've looked around, but I haven't found anything. I run on Mac. No Windows in this house.