How to design a map for your fictional novel? - Magic Fantasy

Hi everybody! We are in the last week of September and comments about the Sierpen novel have arrived.

Apart from the comments in which I am told about what the opinions of the novel are, there are several people who are asking me about the map that appears in the digital version (Kindle) and also the one that appears in the physical version.

I have decided to do this post explaining the basics of what is needed to be done in order to design your own illusory maps.

It will turn out be very useful and you will be able to see that the way that it is explained makes it almost imposible for the reader to get lost.

Let’s start!

Is it always necessary to design a map for a fantasy novel?

For a poorly developed novel or whose argument does not extend to other lands, the answer would be no.

But, if you want to develop a more credible story and want to establish certain distance among the territories, believe me, designing a map will save you so many headaches.

For example, it would be very useful in case that you want to calculate the travel time, the distances between the different important points, and many other reasons.

And no, I am not trying to discourage you. When you finish reading the entire article, you will understand the importance of making your own map.

Creating your own map will allow you to fulfill two different functions:

  • It will help you locate yourself while you are writing. It is very important for you to be aware, at all times, in which places your characters are moving.
  • With the help of a ruler, you can make the necessary calculations to guide the reader in the time and distance in your magical world.

First steps: Reflect, design and create.

The first thing you need to do is create a draft in which you will write each of the important places of your novel.

It is not about just locating the cities, it is also about including the places that needs to be crossed, the location of important mountains, enclaves, rivers, forests, and many other geographical factors.

It must be represented everything that you consider necessary and that has a primary presence in your history.

Once you have the draft, you will have to design the map by your own hand. For this, you will need a paper and a pencil.

Many people have asked me if there are any programs that help you create your own maps. Honestly, I don’t know, so I will teach you the traditional way of doing them.

My advice is to use a DINA4 folio, which is the most common one. And, in case you want to make several maps because there are different regions, I recommend you to make them separately.

Before you start drawing the official version, practice in a notebook the way in which you imagine your own world. In case that you do not have a clear idea, try to invent different formulas to do it. 

You have to decide if your map will be of a country (which would help you avoid doing all the superfluities), of several countries or from an entire continent (such as Vardión in Sierpen). 

Then, you will have to think and decide if the territory would be an island, if it should be surrounded of water, if there are other lands or if there are any mountainous, borders between countries, etc…

Imagination has to be at its maximum power!

Once you have done this, place the villages and all the important points.