So I Think My Fantasy World Needs A Map


May 23, 2013 by Ifeoma Dennis

I’m officially in chapter six of DOT now and 15 824 words in…yay! I outlined twenty-nine chapters and assigned an approximate of 3000 words to each. Yes, that’s how I work.

Funny thing is I’m not much of a plotter/planner in day-to-day life…I don’t start thinking today about what clothes to wear to school tomorrow, I wake up every morning and look through my closet. I don’t plan when to make chocolate or go shopping, I rely on my impulses. Because I may plan to do something and get caught up with other things- mostly school, the weather, writing or even my mood.

But writing is where it’s all different. I don’t take chances with it.

I plan it, map it all out like some Obsessive-Compulsive-Disordered perfectionist.

I’ve been working on the outline for DOT since late February and still not yet done, even though I became confident enough to start drafting in late April. I’ve completed character outlines, culture elements and plot- down to most scenes. The only aspect that still needs work is the world of my characters. You know, the geography of the world.

Recently, I read this post by Brian Staveley on using maps to help with understanding fantasy worlds, and it inspired me to use maps for DOT.

The only thing is I don’t think I’ll draw my maps FIRST before writing— though that is subject to change.

After my chapter five (which is the chapter my protagonist enters the fantasy world), I drew a rough map of the city where it takes place- adding the details of the places I mentioned in the chapter, and expanding on more. Then I went back and added a few geography details to my already-written chapter.

So the way it works for me is I have to think it out first, write it, then draw it and go back to make some changes.

DOT happens in multiple fantasy worlds, so it means I have to go through this back-and-forth process for all the worlds my protagonist finds herself in.

But I love DOT so much, and I don’t mind going through a lot of work for it.

So here’s to more organization… and learning to draw maps 😉

Here’s a picture of my sketch pad (and Game of Thrones) just because…

Here’s a picture of my sketch pad (and Game of Thrones) just because…


14 thoughts on “So I Think My Fantasy World Needs A Map

  1. Okay, I’m seriously getting goosebumps . You’re on chapter 6 of your DOT manuscript and over 15,000 words in, while I’M on chapter 7 of MY DOT (‘Daughter of Time’) manuscript and I’m over 17,000 words in. It’s like we’re synchronized writers. I think I might have to add you to my blog roll simply because it seems like the universe is telling me to (by the way, mine is a YA SciFi romance with some fantasy elements–and I’ve outlined 25 chapters!).

    • Awww thank you Jodi you’re so sweet! I love reading your blog posts (wish you were using wordpress!) but as long as you update on Twitter, I’d definitely check it out!!
      Cheers to us and to finished manuscripts someday 😉

      • Check it out Ifeoma–you’re on my blogroll now ( I’ll keep updating on twitter, but watch out–my twin sis is a writer on my blog too! Her posts are signed “Shannon” at the bottom though, so it’s not too much of a mind-bender.

        Yes, cheers to us and our WIPs! *clink*

        • Awww thank you so much Jodi!! So happy I’m on your blog roll *head expands with pride*
          I’ve read your sister’s posts and loved them, so that’s not a problem!

  2. My approach is the same as yours. I only drew my map after I finished the first draft. Before that, I simply didn’t know enough.

    Best of luck with finishing DOT!

  3. Nikki Diehm says:

    YOU GO GIRL! If you want to send me something soon, let me know!

  4. Maps are a handy planning tool, even for non-fantasy genres. I know I’ve read over my own work before and realized a store or house had magically moved across town several chapters after its initial appearance.

    P.S. Glad you’ve joined the Inbetweeners!

  5. Faye says:

    Okay, first of all, why have I taken so long to click over and find your blog! You commented on a post of mine months ago and I thought – that’s so nice and never clicked lol. So thank you. I have never been an outliner but I admire people that do. Now that I am working on my second and its a prequel of the first, I have all these things I need to remember! So, I think I may have to be one of those people. Do you use Scrivener? I heard great things.

    • No, I don’t. I outline on paper and draft with MS Word 2010 (which is quite good too! I can break up my chapters into scenes and that makes for easy navigation). Although I once tried buying Scrivener weeks back when Amazon was selling it at a discount but it wasn’t available for download in my country. You could give it a shot though and see if it helps!

  6. bstaveley says:

    Colored pencils. I should have used colored pencils.

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"Dreams can get you through anything."

-Cat York


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Writing progress


First Draft:

93210 / 90000 words. 104% done!

Second Draft:

40482 / 90000 words. 45% done!

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