Saturday, February 16, 2008

World Building, Geography and Maps

World Building: Geography & Maps
By Paul Genesse

The world you create is an important character in your fiction.
Develop the personality of the place where your story is set.

●Write a biography on your setting from the land’s point of view. Here’s a sample from a bio I wrote for my fantasy novel, Medusa’s Daughter.

“I am Kastaros, the island of the cursed. Once I was the home of a great people, but they have gone now, killed or scared away when the fire and vapors within me boiled forth. Only those cursed by the gods live upon me now.
The sea tries to cool my shoulders, but it will never tame me. Storms and rain may come and slowly erode my slopes, but I will rise again if need be. Perhaps someday I will tire of this existence in the windswept sea and explode until there is nothing left of me. I will spread out across the world, hide the sun and choke the world with my ash.”

● Keep in mind the most important geographic and other features that influence the people who live where you story is set. Please read Guns, Germs, and Steel by Jared Diamond to learn more. Decide if the land has:

Stable agriculture?
Navigable rivers?
Mountains, deserts, or bodies of water that close it off from other areas?
Plants that are easily domesticated?
Animals that are easily domesticated?
A mild or harsh climate?
Deadly diseases that are endemic to the area?
A population that has been there a long or short period of time?
Natural resources that benefit the local population?

●Resources to help you draw maps of your world.
Fractal Mapper
Campaign Cartographer by ProFantasy Software Ltd.
Autorealm (free)
Or hand draw it, scan it, put it in Power Point and type on it, or use a drawing program.

Great places to study maps:
National Geographic Atlas of the World and
Google Earth at or Google Mars at
Study maps in novels and games at the bookstore or library

1 comment:

Brina said...

Cool way of thought... Its very similar to working backwards from the enviroment rather than a character, item(artifact), or event. Working from a map gives the opportunity for physical reference points that can be visualized using a picture. Pictures are worth a 1000 words. Maps can work this way also. I think that it gives a reader or world-builder a point of reference when they say that characters are traveling for days;what is between point A and B, how far, and what type of climates are they traveling through is important. It can provide more story. Different eco-systems provide challenges all unique to the area. Enviroment can be used to enhance a story through hardship or ease. A charater in a white room with nothing to interact with isnt a story. A person is only 2 dimensional until they interact with their enviroment.
Maps can provide that reference. There are some essential things to making a map. These are things that a map MUST have, or at least thats what my geography teacher spent a semester drilling into my head. 1. Title 2. Legend 3. Scale 4. directional compass. There may be one or two that I am forgetting. COOL idea for starting a world, from a map...