Made in America

Map it Out: How Maps can Help Your Story

Fiction novels have the ability to transport us into a brand-new world, a world that we could have never dreamed of, one that plucks us right from reality and places us into the trenches of this fantasy realm.

More times than not, when you crack open a fantasy novel for the first time, you’re greeted with a map. This map shows you the ins and outs of the area and adds context to the story that you’re about to read.

Nowadays, we’re living in a world where visuals speak volumes. So if you’re in the midst of writing a fiction novel of your own, we have a few reasons why you should consider adding a map to your storyline.

It helps the writing process.

Do you remember when you were younger and you’d have a handful of crayons and a blank page in front of you, how your imagination would almost take off like a space ship? It was as if you couldn’t color fast enough to get your ideas onto the paper. The same idea applies to drawing out a map of your of the world in your novel. When you spend time sketching out the lay of the land, you’ll start to think of new ways to develop your plot. Will you add new scenes that provide a plot twist into your story to supplement the incorporation of a brand-new location? Seeing a map with your own eyes will bring to life the story that you are trying to tell and iron out any wrinkles in the plot that you might not have been aware of without the help of the map.

Seeing is believing.

It’s one thing to describe the landscape of where your characters are from with words, but it’s another to actually see it for yourself. Maps will provide your readers with a visual of the terrain where your story is unfolding. Maybe a focal point of your story is a mountain? Your map will allow you to sketch out that mountain and showcase the land around it and how the varied terrain works in cohesion to bring your story to life.

Point of reference.

Sometimes when we read a good book, we are completely ensconced with the words and fiercely flip the pages to see how the story unfolds. In these instances, we read and re-read portions of the book to make sure that we didn’t miss anything like subtle undertones or clues along the way. The same goes for maps in books. As a reader leafs through your book, they’ll want to visualize where exactly the scene is unfolding. That’s when a map can be an effective supportive piece to your story – when the reader wants to determine how far the city is from the mountaintop, they’ll only need to flip to the map to close the loop in their minds.

So if you’re weaving a fictional tale, take some time to put on your cartographer’s cap and create a map of your setting. It may prove to be a valuable tool for both you and the reader!

Copyright Dorrance Publishing, 2017

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