Have map, will travel in a fiction world

First, some housekeeping: Several authors are doing a blog-swap from July 28 to August 10 as a fun exploration of shape shifters and fantasy novels in general for the launch of my novel Gargoyle, which is book four in my Doublesight series. It’s also a standalone in case you haven’t read the other books.

Along with the blog-swap is a Rafflecopter giveaway! Or you can join us on Facebook .

Here’s the blog-swap schedule:

July 28 (Tues.): https://kandijwyatt.wordpress.com/ (Me on Kandi J. Wyatt’s site)

July 29 (Wed.): http://www.terrypersun.com/#!blog/c23fy (Kandi J. Wyatt on my site)

July 30 (Thurs.): http://www.jonathangouldwriter.com/blog/ (Me on Jonathan Gould’s site)

August 1 (Sat.): http://www.terrypersun.com/#!blog/c23fy (Jonathan Gould on my site)

August 2 (Sun.): http://michaelgmunz.com/blog/ (Me on Michael G. Munz’s site)

August 3 (Mon.): http://www.terrypersun.com/#!blog/c23fy (Michael G. Munz on my site)

August 4 (Tue.): http://www.elisestephens.com/(Me on Elise Stephens’ site)

August 5 (Wed.): http://www.terrypersun.com/#!blog/c23fy (Elise Stephens on my site)

August 6 (Thur.): http://davidmcovenant.com/?cat=1(Me on David Covenant’s site)

August 7 (Fri.): http://www.terrypersun.com/#!blog/c23fy (David Covenant on my site)

August 9 (Sun.): http://sexyfantasyfiction.com/(Me on E.S. Tilton’s site)

August 10 (Mon.): http://www.terrypersun.com/#!blog/c23fy (E.S. Tilton on my site)


Here’s E.S. Tilton's post about fantasy books and their maps. Thank you for joining us. -Terry

Have map, will travel in a fiction world.

by E.S. Tilton

The thrill of discovering a map

(E.S. Tilton's map at left)

As any fantasy fiction reader knows, there is a special thrill when we open the cover of a book and find a map. It means there are lands to discover and that at least one character will be on the move. It promises a taste of alien cultures as the character shifts from location to location. It also usually means there is someone in pursuit, or a quest of some type.

From the moment I saw the map at the beginning of The Hobbit, I was addicted. I remember sitting there, at eleven years old, flipping back and forth between the map and the story, tracing the path. Since then I’ve purchased a lot of fantasy books, often just because it had a map. Which brings me to now.

To add a map or not

(Map from Doublesight at left)

There are those who would argue that maps and images shouldn’t be included in books because they limit the reader’s imagination. Yet I’ve read books and formed a different image of the characters than what the book cover presented. And I’ve found maps to be essential to keeping track of directions.

Terry Persun and I have both chosen to use maps in our books. Can our books be read without the maps? Absolutely. I want to give my reader the same thrill I get when I find a map in a book. I can’t speak for Terry in that area, but I suspect that he too wants to connect with the heart of the reader. While I can almost agree that we should not use images in the books and that our stories should stand on their own without images, I feel that maps can help bring clarity, especially for people who struggle with direction and distances.

Types of maps in books

The types of maps that people use in their books are as varied as the types of fantasy fiction. This second map, also taken from The Hobbit, contains very little information. There’s a mountain, and some runic writing, and a pointing hand. The simplicity in and of itself makes you want to know more.

If you wish to develop your own map, you can get, or make, everything from a simple hand drawn map to a full color digital map. Terry has chosen to use a map that looks like it was created by one of his characters. When I open his book the first thought I will have is “which character made this map?” and the second will be “why did the character make the map?” I will be looking forward to the time the map enters the story. A map like that draws me in and makes me want to have my questions answered.

Note to writers: Even simple maps will thrill your readers. Take a look at my first maps here. I had many rave reviews over this digital map that Mark Hardman created.

Choosing your style

Recently (while upgrading my maps for the newer, better, version of Trapped) I did a lot of research into maps. As an artist, I needed to define what style I wanted, before I set about creating. And you will too, especially if you plan to hire someone to make it. Most designers will want examples of the style you are looking for, and if you don’t provide one, then you may not end up with what is rolling around inside your head.

One of the first things I ran into were beautiful water colored maps. Unfortunately, normal fiction books are limited to black and white. But the lure of color was too great. I ended up deciding to create two maps simultaneously: a color map for trailers and my site, as well as a black and white map for the book. I soon discovered that the black and white version needed a much smaller edging so that the details remained legible. As you can see from the images I’ve included in this post, the maps are shaping up but neither of them is complete. I’m not satisfied with the edging on the black and white version and I’ve yet to have added watercolor styling to the color version.

I strongly recommend doing a google search on cartography, and fantasy maps before you decide the direction you want to take your map in.

Drawing the elements

I also decided to draw most of my elements myself instead of using the many brushes that are available. The image above can be seen in tiny detail directly above the Mystmirr. It is far from perfect but once reduced on the map the flaws disappear. Had I been making this simply for my own enjoyment I might have picked up some brushes from Deviantart. Fortunately I have a wonderful Wacom drawing pad, which made digital drawing much faster than I expected. Each creature or building on my map was first drawn large and then reduced to fit. When I started reducing them I didn’t bother with scale, as I felt the map was more interesting with larger images. My map, my rules. ;)

If you lack drawing abilities don’t despair, there are lots of great tiny images out there that can be found for free on sites like Pixabay, Brushes that can be used, with permission, from Deviantart, and other brushes that can be purchased from companies like Evanto Market.

Scale or no scale

My very first map was a scribbled mess of lines and arrows. I felt that seeing it would encourage you but could only find this middle range map. As you can see, my early attempts at digital art were a very poor mix of hand drawn scans and sprayed green. If I had been forced to create this myself I would have hand drawn the entire thing and scanned my efforts. If you can’t do this yourself consider asking the local highschool for help. Most kids would love to get credit in the front of a book for drawing the map. Notice that there are a few distances marked with arrows and lines? Even after I thought I was done I ended up going back and checking route distances again. Remember to correct the times in your books to correspond with the map and vice versa. Also use tracing paper rather than draw on your original sketch.

At that time accuracy was very important to me, so I consulted with someone who had spent time on the trail and knew how much ground a horse could cover in a day. The cat mounts were a more difficult challenge and required some guesswork. We decided they would be faster than the horses but would need extra time to rest. That decision was based around years of owning cats and noticing that they tend to work in short bursts of frenzied activity and then crash for a while. Any fiction writer that has winged species, or other unusual manner of travel, will face this same challenge when creating their maps.

So do we map or not?

Each writer is going to feel differently about that, but if your characters are traveling in a pretend world, I would urge you to consider creating a map. It is very difficult for a reader to read directions like they went north and a few pages later east, then west, and etc. Soon they begin to feel lost and start flipping back through the pages to figure out where they are. I would also urge you to put your maps up on your site. Digital books are not as easy to reference maps on, and several readers have asked that I make my maps downloadable so that they can have it next to them while reading the book.

I’d like to thank Terry Persun for this wonderful opportunity to share my highly opinionated views on maps and fantasy fiction.

What’s your opinion about maps in books. Yes? No? Maybe? What do you think?

Trapped – X

When the Red Pelican Assassin's Guild offered Sarenka a job she thought she was getting a safe cottage to live in while she spied on philandering innkeepers. She had no idea it would lead to wanted posters flapping in the ocean breeze and eating scraps from dog bowls. Branded a murderess, her only chance for survival is to escape Burmtin.

Without friends or allies she's lonely, desperate. Yet she dare not reveal her true face for fear of what the slavers, mercenaries, pirates, and petty thieves will do. Caught within a broiling cloud of deception, where psychics and ghosts fight to control the twists of fate, Sarenka finds in the end that only one thing matters: Can the same illusions that doom her, save her?

“Enter a world of decadent opulence and primitive tribalism. Unleash your imagination and ride the tide of fantasy with shape-shifters and quicksilver demons. Lose yourself in a labyrinthine world, Kyron’s Worlde.”

This is a stand alone book in the Kyron's World saga. Other books in the series include Foretold: Betrayal and Foretold: Seduction's Blade.

This edition of Trapped contains explicit sexual material intended for adults only.

E.S. Tilton BIO:

Avid gardener and costume enthusiast, ES Tilton spends her time petting cats, loving on family, playing with computers, creating art, and writing fantasy fiction. Despite a recent move to the country, she claims there is never enough time to follow her dreams, to whatever strange land they may lead. She is the proud owner of two cats, one lover, three children, and more plants than she can take care of. Her other interests include dancing, herbal healing, psychic phenomena, and, of course, pleasure.

ES Tilton is the creator of Kyrons Worlde. She joined booktrope in 2015 and is soon to re-release Trapped. It’s now 1/3 longer and has fresh and exciting new adventures that include a psychic cat mount.

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