Fantasy map making is one of Autumn and Jesper's favorite topics.

In episode 62 of the Am Writing Fantasy podcast, they discuss where to start when creating maps, how important realism and immersion is and how maps benefit your writing.

Map making tools are also on the agenda, as well as, discussing why some authors might avoid map creation and how to overcome the reluctance.


Links mentioned in the show:

The Ultimate Fantasy Writers Guide course:

Fantasy Map Making book: (paperback available from Amazon)

Map Making 101 blog post: 


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Read the full transcript below.

(Please note that it's automatically generated and while the AI is super cool, it isn't perfect. There may be misspellings or incorrect words on occasion).

Narrator (1s): . You're listening to the amwritingfantasy podcast. In today's publishing landscape, you can reach fans all over the world. Query letters are a thing of the past. You don't even need a literary agent. There is nothing standing in the way of making a living from writing join to best selling authors who have self published more than 20 books between them. Now onto the show with your hosts. Autumn Birt and Jesper Schmidt.

Jesper (30s): Hello. I am, Jesper. And I'm Autumn. This is episode 62 of the amwritingfantasy podcast and today we are covering one of my favorite topics and it's a fantasy map making I honestly don't know how, how did we wait 62 episodes to cover this? Autumn this is completely wrong. I don't know, cause it's

Autumn (53s): definitely, it's both of us. I mean, I, I'm at currently ranking a fantasy map for another author. So yeah, I love fantasy maps. I don't know how we waited so long. Maybe we just thought just talking about a map would be two less fun than getting the visuals, but Oh well we'll figure it out.

Jesper (1m 11s): No, it cannot be not fun to talk about maps. It's a, that's a credible, yeah. I mean we amateurs, we should, we should have done this as episode one or something. That's true. It was just, this is,

Autumn (1m 24s): well, it's because we're not just world-building, but this is definitely something we both love and so many authors do. I mean, what does a fantasy book without a map in it? It's just, you feel lost for from the get go.

Jesper (1m 38s): Yeah. I keep every single week I find some maps on Twitter and then I comment on them just because I liked them so much. So when I was more active on Twitter, I would do the same

Autumn (1m 47s): thing. And you're right. I actually kind of, I kind of missing the maps and what people are working on it. I need to add world-building hashtags to my Instagram searches.

Jesper (1m 57s): Yeah, yeah, indeed. I mean, I don't care if they, if those Twitter images are like, yeah, somebody made it out of crayon or whatever. I don't care. Just the fact that it's a map I love him. Map I don't care what it looks like.

Autumn (2m 8s): Yeah. I mean, I went for my, uh, last book where I was creating a map by newest world that I was making. I actually only did it in black and white, which, I mean, I almost always call her my map, so I was very surprised myself. But there's nothing, you know, it's sometimes fun just to have the shading and keep it simple and it does look better in the book. It's very crisp.

Jesper (2m 30s): Cool.

Autumn (2m 31s): Yeah. Yeah. The color does make it better to be honest. But black and white can be quite cool. Yeah. I it was, uh, yeah, it needed to get done when it was still, it was fun. I mean, I just recently found discovered cartography brushes for Photoshop and yeah. Oh, nice. Oh no, it's so bad. It's so much fun to have so much ease of creating maps. So yeah, it's, it's what we do, but that's not where we're going

Jesper (2m 60s): to start. We're have so much other stuff been going on the last week. Have it. I know, even in your life you've got some stuff going on. Yeah. Well, well, I think in general things have been going quite well. Um, on the, on the work side of things, I'm about halfway through the plotting book, one for our new series. So I'm very pleased with that. So it's, it's going, uh, it's going to be so much fun to write that novel.

I'm really looking forward to it. Um, but other than that is also been a pretty well pretty busy weekend last weekend, but also the last couple of weekends because, uh, well this weekend we just, uh, came out of, uh, one of my son's classmates had a birthday parties, so he was at that and my oldest son was at the cinema a cinema together with my wife. And, uh, and we also had somebody who came to look at the house. As I've mentioned before, I think on the podcast that we, we've been trying to sell the house for a long while now.

So, uh, it's things or maybe that there's been a bit of an uptake in people looking now, at least we've had three different couples, uh, looking over the last couple, well, two weeks probably, uh, last weekend. This weekend, maybe the weekend even before that, I don't remember. But the last couple of weeks I've been a bit of an uptake. Um, one of them was like, uh, this younger couple and when they were here looking at the house, I, I worry, I already said to my wife, because they really liked the house and then they had to go and have a meeting with the bank of obviously, and I said to my wife, you know, these guys is, they don't have the money to buy this.

It's, our house is only like a am, what is it from 2005. Okay. Some of you know, it's a pretty new house, so it's not cheap. So if you're really young as you can afford it, so yeah, lo and behold, they came back on the, uh, okay. It's about 800,000 Danish crowns, too expensive. So that's like a hundred K U S dollars. It says like, you're, you're just will weigh off, you know.

Um, and then there was another couple looking. Uh, they looked at three different houses here in, in our area. They actually ended up bidding on one of the other ones, but they bit like what's probably equivalent to 40, 50 K dollars below the price that it was offered. For so yeah, the real estate agent agent just told me, you know, I just told that then, then I'm not even going to tell the, uh, the, you know, the house owner you're bit, because this is ridiculous. Oh wow.

You can't beat 50 K below that. I mean, come on. It's that serious. Right? Yeah. That's, that's really it for a bargain. Yeah. I mean, come on. It's ridiculous. So, so that never happened. So they went away. And then this weekend, uh, just a couple of days ago, there was another couple in their mid thirties who came to look at our house and they looked at one more house as well, uh, just down the street that is also for sale. Uh, so they really liked the house. Um, so they, they needed and they have a good, uh, you know, financial, financial, they are, they are doing well enough.

So, uh, we'll see what happens. It's, it's only been like one work day since they were here. Right. So I don't know yet. We'll see what happens. But, but I don't know. I mean, why is it that people go out and do like how shopping without checking with the bank first? Well how much they can afford. I just don't understand.

Autumn (6m 45s): No, I mean the times I've bought houses, we have always gone and gotten a preapproval and had like a limit and just kind of knowing what we're looking for. But I don't know, maybe that one young couple isn't really, you know, maybe those are first time and they hadn't really figured that out yet.

Jesper (7m 1s): No, but isn't it like common sense that, you know, if you want to buy a house, maybe you need to check with the bank how much you can afford. I mean, it's just you, you know, they're wasting their own time driving around. Also probably getting a site excited about somehow we want to buy that house and whatnot. Right. But they're also wasting our time that we have to leave the house and they have to see it and all that. And then it's just all for nothing. Right. I dunno.

Autumn (7m 27s): Oh, it's just weird to me. I don't know what's common sense for some people might be a learning experience for someone else. Yeah, maybe.

Jesper (7m 39s): Okay. I guess I shouldn't be complaining. At least somebody is, uh, interesting in seeing the houses so that that's of course good. But maybe someday, someday maybe it'll lead into an actual sale, but uh, it's, it's tough.

Autumn (7m 52s): Yeah, it is tough. It's still early in the spring, so you'll, uh, you know, to be spring is always win. The house sales and stuff really start moving. So it's, to me it's a good sign that you have people interested early Springs, so that's a good thing. That's a good sign. Yeah. I'm trying not to be too pessimistic, but, but keep in mind that we've had the house for sale for more than a year now. Right. So we've been through a spring already. Oh, that was a bad sprain. This will be, this is the one 20 20th century maybe. Maybe 20. 20 is to write spring. That's right. I like that. I hope so.

That'd be a good side. Yeah. How about you? Oh, well, you know, I've moved into our little cabin in the woods that were fixing up, um, as part of our rental agreement. So that's really exciting. Except it is Vermont and it is winter, uh, not quite spring. And part of what we're doing is a little addition on the back and that is am it's really fun to have to do some earth moving and ground work. A small group, small spot, but it's cause it's under an overhang so it's like you couldn't fit in heavy equipment if we had some, but it's a lot of um, handpicking he, uh, I didn't realize, I've learned that the tool I'm using is actually called a pneumatic.

It's a pickaxe on one side and it looks kinda like a hoe on the other, right about the right. Writing you know, writers hands. They don't like manual labor like that. Do they know my, um, yeah, my right wrist is a little sore and tired and so, uh, yeah, it's not exactly, I've enough writing right now, but I have to say, I, I the keyboard, it's much easier to type it. So far.

I have to say, considering my hands usually get really sore, like if I do woodworking and things, so I'm, I'm not displeased that it's going well. And I learned that some of those common phrases like pick away at things, I think that came from pickaxes and you just kind of take little chunks, big chunks, but it's going, it's all the groundworks almost. It's like 92% done. So this week. Oh, that's funny. Yeah. Well this week will hopefully be actually putting in the floor, uh, and then building the walls and you know, once you got that pretty much framed it and put the insulation, it's starting to feel like, you know, you're, it's amazing how fast a building, especially just a one room can go up.

So am right. Yeah. I, I'm really hopeful that it'll be a, you know, a week two next week you'll have to check in and see how far we've come in our little cabin project. If you follow me on Instagram, I have been posting some pictures even on Facebook, on my personal feed. So if someone is interested in actually, yeah, tiny house construction. Am if you're kind of curious, do you know, come look me up and you can see how my homes coming along in between the podcast updates.

Cool. Oh, week on the internet with the amwritingfantasy podcast so we have, uh, something quite amazing to mention today. I'm sorry, I can't believe we've held off on mentioning this as well. No, I guess to be honest, like we talked about before we started recording, we should probably have mentioned it a bit earlier as well because it's just a bit down to the wire here. But if you are listening to this podcast episode on the data that it airs, then it will be the 2nd of March.

And that means that we have for the first time in six months now we have our premium writing costs open for enrollment. Yay. This is a big course. So it's, and we only do this twice a year. So it's so exciting when we open it up to new students and it's exciting to see the new students too. Yeah, absolutely. But th th th the thing is here that, so it'll be the 2nd of March if you, if you're listening on the day that this episode launches, but the cost active closest on the 5th of March.

So you only have a few days, uh, there, uh, there is a link in the show notes, so you can go and check it out if you're interested in that. But maybe autumn maybe you could just say a bit about what's in this a cost that we have named the ultimate fantasy writers guide right. I would love to, because this course is very near and dear to my heart. I actually created this one before we got together and became amwritingfantasy. So this is this course. I created it because, well, one, because I had a horrible time, um, with some in-person courses I took ages ago and I remember English class or so boring and so many of these things, they tell you these adages and they don't really get into the in depth.

Or the one course I took was all on mem, you know, it was open to all these other genres, memoirs and blah, blah, blah. And it really didn't help me with fantasy writing and that's what I wanted to learn. So as I got better and got awards and learned what I was doing, I've started putting all those notes together and created this course that it's to me I wanted, I'm sick of always having to go cobbled together and get your information from a hundred different sources or six different courses. I wanted a one stop shop.

I wanted to be able to take, um, an idea. It's to, you have an idea for a novel, how to develop that, how to build characters, how to world build, all the important things with fantasy writing and then breaking down the writing from how to write the beginning of a novel, how to write a really riveting middle and not get yourself or your reader lost or board and how, what you need to put in the climax and the ending. And more than that though, I wanted to teach other authors how to go and find, uh, you know, readers, especially as you're writing so that they're there and they're excited for your launch day and you end up launching to reviews and how to edit.

Cause I know that was one of what we just talked about editing on the podcast, but editing, that was something when I first got to it I was like, Oh, how do you tackle this? So I have a whole module on editing in there and there's editing on what is indie publishing and talking about wide versus just on Amazon or KDP select and what do you need to do for formatting, what do you need to do per book covers? What are all these steps and pieces? Cause I know the first time I've helped so many authors since then, the first time you upload the Amazon it's so nerve wracking.

It is exciting and you have questions. So it actually goes step by step on how to do that. And then the last module is how to go and build an author platform and, and brand. I mean literally I wanted this to be everything from your first novel idea to building your author career business all in one class. So it's a PR. I I know when I first told people this is what I wanted to do, they're like, wow, Whoa, how are you going to do that and hate 12 modules.

I did it. Got, you know, the who have gone through it or I love it and I think it's helped quite a few people. And actually I know you yes, we're actually went through it. So I think that's exciting. So yeah, it's quite some years ago now. It's been out for a few years now. So it is really funny. So it is kind of you were helped what helped me beta tested almost so it was fantastic back then and yeah, I am so excited to be seeing it, you know, coming again in new students and it's always a very exciting thing.

And I know you said, I think you pulled together some of the testimonials from other students. I did, yes.

Jesper (15m 30s): Put together a short, a some clip here that I was thinking to play. Just so people shouldn't take our word for it. Right, so I can just like just play a short clip here if you're okay with,

Autumn (15m 42s): yes. Excellent. Okay, let's go.

Catherine (15m 50s): Hi everyone. I'm Catherine. I'm currently working my way through the ultimate fantasy writers guide and I've been finding it very helpful. One of my main problems has been plotting. I had a very hard time getting my plot to go through and have continuity after going through the workshops for the plotting section. I have now got a full plot and have begun writing. It has been very helpful for me and I'm sure you will find it very helpful too.


Jim (16m 22s): Hi, I'm Jim D read fantasy author and I just watched autumn Brits a launch day module. It was a really informative, had a lot of great information. She had ideas I had never thought of before. Really excited to implement her ideas and launching my own book. Thank you. Autumn.

Speaker 6 (16m 47s): I highly recommend the ultimate fantasy writers guide because it's one of the best programs I've ever seen. It not only covers pretty much everything about writing from start to finish, including fan bases and stay in confident and everything. It also has things like languages and naming your character's based on that and it has map making it is just so excellent.

Jesper (17m 14s): All right. That, that was it. I hope that was loud enough. Uh, I can, uh, some of it was ma ma might be a bit low on the volume, but hopefully everybody could hear it. It came through fine on my end, so hopefully no one's like driving and they're Lily leaning towards their speaker trying to hear those. But hopefully, hopefully the soundtracks will,

Autumn (17m 37s): you know, be boosted when we do our post-production. So we'll, we'll keep an eye on that.

Jesper (17m 42s): Yeah, well we'll see what we can to make sure it goes through. OK. But, uh, but at least that gives, uh, you dear listener. Um, a bit of a, you know, other people's reflection on the course. Uh, and as I said, a closes on the 5th of March and we only open it twice a year. So if you want to have a look at it, you need to hurry up and click through the links in the show notes and check it out. And uh, if you do come in later and listening to this after the fifth, then you can still follow that link in the show notes.

Uh, and that it'll actually there. They will then be the possibility to get your name on a wait list for next time around. So, uh, you can do that. And the additional benefit I would say from doing that is also that you get onto our email list and in between now and next time we're going to email you a lot of good stuff about writing and wealth building tips and all kinds of stuff. So it never stops. We always have tips. We have the podcast, you know, tips we send by emails. So we want to make sure that, you know, we're helping authors and writers from everything, from marketing to how to write well.

So it's worth looking us up in at least joining the email list. And then you'll hear about the next course if you miss this one, which will be usually sometime in August. So, gosh, isn't that an age way? Probably. Yeah. Well, time flies. Yes. Uh, and of, and of course if you on the email list and you will get the information timely as well and not last second like this answer and the next time maybe we will do better at about announcing it ahead of time and we'll try at least, I don't want to promise two hours.

We'll try. You never know when someone's going to listen to an episode. So you can be listening to this in June. Yeah. Who knows? Yeah, maybe. Yeah, that's true. All right. Um, I think we'll move on. Let's go. So fantasy I was thinking like where do we want to start with the, I mean the, I, I think I would like to talk a bit about where you start with the map and also how a map map can help you with writing.

Maybe we could talk a bit about tools that you can use for map creation but I don't know what you think. That sounds perfect. I was gonna say you've only written a book on fantasy map making and you don't know where to start. I mean, come on Yesper you should have this out. Oh, and I'm disappointed. Yeah. Well the, the thing is that with the book writer, you can show the illustration. So everything that I'm talking about and uh, but, but here with audio only, we need to be a bit mindful about how to, how to make this episode approachable.

Uh, so it doesn't become too technical about geographics or whatever because that might also be a bit boring to listen to. But when you have a big a book with pictures in it, then it becomes a bit more interesting. It's much easier to show the pictures. But that's OK. I, I, cause I've written tons of blog posts. I mean map making is sort of, I think I had been doing a post on map making and you were, had the book coming out on something with maps and lo and behold, it's sort of how we met

Autumn (20m 49s): our first, first, first introduction, way back when on Twitter. So, yeah, this was, I can't believe this is blessing think. So remind them. Oh I think so. I'd have to go back into Twitter and double check. Oh goodness knows. I'm sure it's back there somewhere. It's been years and years and years. But I do remember, I think I had done a map making one Oh one blog post. So if I can do a blog post on that making one-on-one, we can, we can do this with no visuals. Well w we're going to be fine. Yeah. Yeah, absolutely. And I do think we've always, I think we both had the theory, um, that you start with coastlines.

That's always where I like to start with my map is actually figuring out which is land of which is water. Yeah.

Jesper (21m 33s): Uh, I have one step that I like to do before I even get that far to be honest. Um,

Autumn (21m 40s): because I think

Jesper (21m 42s): when you're looking at the map uh, I mean of course we are talking about maps that accompanies novels. So what I would like to do before I even do anything, um, and after that I agreed that then its coastlines. But before I get to the coastlines, uh, I like to think a bit about the story that you go into territorial very good point. And then think about, okay, what kind of things do I need on this map to convey the story so that it, it helps the story, right?

So it could be like, you know, you need the, you need the mountain where the, uh, well now I'm thinking about the vampire of course from our mix, but something, you know, yeah, you need the grave site for the vampire on amount. Okay, so I need a mountain or I need a magical tower or uh, you know, I need a Capitol city from where the main character comes from or whatever it might be. But, but so I like to write down like a, like a list of, okay, here are the things that I definitely need on that.

No, it's very tune just so that I can reference.

Autumn (22m 47s): Yes. I think even like, even when you don't realize that you are already creating your world and a map in your mind, you really are, as you start thinking of your story, you think about where the main character, you know, where does the story start. Uh, that's uh, obviously a really good place to maybe start thinking about where your map is. You know, and then you think about where does the character go on the big events? And you start, you're right, you start saying, well, uh, I know with my first book they started in a seaside town and then we needed a big city and then we're going to go across the, uh, big dangerous water and so they're going to go to a desert.

So you start making that list of these are the kinds of areas that I want my store things I want to happen in my story, in places I want my characters to go to. And very quickly you start coming up with a map and to scale it back because of the map I have to create this week for another author is only one city. But it's still an entire story. So you still do the same thing in this city. What are the places they're going to go to? The

Jesper (23m 46s): taverns, the castle, the pal is the docs, the slums. You're going to start mapping out those areas of that you're going to need to create the story or writing. Hmm. Yeah. And, and that's exactly why I wanted to go when it comes to how does maps actually help with writing? Because one thing is that once you start mapping out things, you start thinking of other things that you didn't have and you can sort of use that as inspiration, which is quite nice.

But the other thing is also, I feel like I often, like right now for example, I'm plotting out a book one in our next series. Yeah. And I very often when I sit and I plot a chapter, I ha, I pull up the draft map that we put together. We're not done with the map yet, but, but at least a draft, I put it out just to, because it both gives me a feel of sizes of things, but also distances, which is very, very helpful. Um, so to know, okay, so if, if I'm going to have them go from this city, should that city, how far is it actually on?

How, how long will that take them? Right, right. But with, with the map right there, it's so easy to, uh, quickly calculate, Oh, okay, that triple take a week. Okay. Yeah. Then I know that, uh, instead of, uh, just making it up out of the blue, uh, I think it just helps tremendously. Yes. And to add to that, and I mean, once your map has done, and even as you're, you know, writing next novel or a series, but once it's done and you're saying they're going from here to here and you realize suddenly, you know, they're crossing a high mountain or they're crossing a Marsh and suddenly you have hurdles and other things you can throw in there, or at least descriptions.

And that's that to me. I mean, that added so much to my first series when I suddenly saw all these places, they would go and develop the cultures that would live in these places and made it all different. And I think it really, the book is so much better because I made the map first. Yeah. Yeah, I agree. And, and the other thing is that, uh, well maybe it's a quote, the, uh, best fantasy ride a Brandon Sanderson, right? But he said at some point that the whole Lake of Epic fantasy is immersion.

And that I fully agree with, uh, the immersion is what makes a difference. And if you want emotion, I mean, you mentioned it before, what I'm right. I mean, having a map at the front of the book in the first couple of pages that already draws people in. Because also because it's a picture, we like looking at pictures. It, it's much, much easier than reading about, okay, so this city is over there. 500 miles from that city would sits in between. And then there is a Marsh and blah, blah, blah, blah. Right? But pictures right there, you can see it.

You don't even have to explain it. Um, so it, it adds that a emotion, but it also adds realism yet, because I really feel like, and this is something I talk quite a lot about in the, in the guidebook, is maps has to be realistic. I mean, unless of course if you are creating a truly fantastical world where like, like the cities are hanging upside down in the hour or whatever, then it's fine. You can do whatever you want, right? But, but otherwise, if you're creating, you're like more traditional medieval Epic fantasy, which is the case for most of us most of the time.

Uh, or it could also be an urban fantasy in a, in a, in a bit more modern setting. But even if you have a map there, it has to be realistic. By realistic, I'm talking about stuff like, um, well let's take rivers for example. Right? Uh, so rivers, they leave mountains. Um, but then sometimes in some maps you'll see the illustrator then sort of turns the river around and then it passes through and data or like a second mountain range because before it goes to the sea, right.

And rivers won't do that. It would be a very extreme innovation. Yes, it's, it doesn't happen. So it's like an unrealistic floor water. Um, and I could also mention w when a river heads down stream, when it's heading towards the ocean, it won't divide by splitting up S you know, as in one river suddenly becoming two rivers instead, rivers will combine as in two rivers joining to become once. And then on many maps you also see a ton of river deltas.

But actually they are much rarer than one thing. Uh, they are usually found near the coastline, so you can add them there if you want. But these are the kinds of things that you really need to think about and, and you know, infuse your map with this kind of level of realism because the reader might not actually be able to put their fingers on what is wrong, but intuitively they will am. They will just feel like there's something that is a bit off here. Something just doesn't compute here. And that breaks the emotion and, and it's just, yeah, it's sad.

Autumn (28m 51s): It is. I mean it really, if you haven't studied geology or cartography to spend some time with some real maps, real-world maps, uh, where you live or coastlines are islands and really get a feel for what shapes the land and rivers. And you know, what is theoretically possible. I mean there's always exceptions. Like I can think of, you know, if you had a glacial dam burst and it created a Canyon, you could technically have a river go through a mountain range.

It does happen in the Rockies, but this is an incredibly, a rare event and you have to have a geological past and you have to know something about tectonic plates in geology. And so if you don't have that level of knowledge, probably best to stick to rivers, do not cut through the mountains. They, they form little streams go into a bigger, that goes into a river and that goes to the coast and dumps into a Lake or an ocean. That's a pretty safe bet. And you should stick with it.

Jesper (29m 50s): That, yeah, I mean it's, it's honestly not because any of this is very complicated. You just sort of need to get the basic stare and uh, uh, but, but the other thing about the geographical things of it is also it, especially when it comes to why, I don't know why we're talking so much about water, but, but they would go, but especially when it comes to water, what has a very, very big impact on maps, but it also have a very big impact on the cultures or the political borders and so forth.

Because rivers not only provide fresh water to the people living around the rivers, but they are also this kind of land feature that gives you a border basically. Right. So in, in the old days when, uh, I was just about to say, when you can't build a wall to the country, I guess we shouldn't get into all that tobacco. We said we promise takes out of this. Yes, yes. So, but what I would just met this, that it gives you a natural border, right? You could have one nation living on one side of the river if it's like a big river and another nation on the other side.

And it's not necessarily that easy to cross either. So, and it becomes easier to defend as well. So it gives you sort of the lay of the lands with the different nations are kingdoms and so forth and where it makes sense that they would have their borders. The same thing with the mum, right? They also give you natural borders. So yes,

Autumn (31m 20s): just about to say, yes, mountains are these natural features where the river is Marsha's, um, places you can't cross mountains. They're wonderful boarders to help develop your nations. And I was going to mention rivers too, but going back to water, uh, they're not just good borders, but they tend to be where towns and cities developed because water is a means for transporting trade goods. It is something we need to live on. And you often protect your clean water source.

So that's usually where a lot of the cities of the first earliest cultures are you going to develop near fresh water, drinking water. So that's also important aspect of why we focus on water and rivers.

Jesper (32m 3s): Yeah. And it also becomes a sort of the highway of your medieval world, meaning that, you know, traveling on boat downstream and stuff like that, that's by far the fastest way to travel. Or if you're doing like am trading or something, that will also be a way to do that. Uh, the, the fastest and easiest would be to sale. So if the river's like a big river that flows into the ocean or something, uh, then, um, that that's, that's sort of an artery of your trading business in in your world then.

So I think that the point about mentioning all of this is, is really to say that there was a lot of things with creating the map that can influence your work

Autumn (32m 46s): writing directly or the store directly and then things will start falling into place and making sense once you have a map. And to me, I think the biggest thing is, like I mentioned, I usually develop the map and then I see these areas. And I know the part of map making is also, you know, the, whether you knew mountain rages and volcanoes and the, you get down to the nitty gritty of what it would be like to live in this area. I mean I, food is huge for me who were not talking about water. You know, what people would grow to eat there.

And you know, if there's enough resources for the city to grow or a towns and as you start thinking about the food types in the water and the land in the rain, I start developing an actual race in a culture that would live there. And so, you know, my first a story, my first series, there wasn't any traditional fantasy culture is because I made them all up to fit the world I had drawn. That all came from first building the map and then thinking about who are these people that would have lived and grown and adapted to be in this climate.

And, uh, that's one of my favorite parts is just, it's the map creates the seed, the kernel that grows into something truly unique and that fits your world in your story and only your world in your story. And it's exciting.

Jesper (34m 8s): Yeah, absolutely. I mean, I really feel like when I open a fantasy book, I know I've said this many times on Twitter as well, but when I opened a fence as you book, if I don't find a map within the first few pages, I'm already a bit disappointed. And it's like, I know not every reader is like me of course, but it's like readers really like fence, see the light, the maps, most of them, yes. And it's a bit like, why do you want to disappoint them right off the bat? No. Yeah, it's very true. I just, I mean, the map is going to help you and the reader will love it.

So why not?

Autumn (34m 42s): Oh, I trust me. I had a, I had a reader who actually really liked the map for my world and obviously they really liked my series. They actually asked if there's a way to buy the map. I mean, talk about getting tingles. That was still, every once in a while he posts a picture of my books underneath the map and I'm like, I don't even have that at my house. I'm so jealous. I want to go there and sit next to his books.

Jesper (35m 4s): Yeah, I actually got the, I actually got the map of, uh, of the world that I used for my previous series. I actually got it made in am poster size, so I can actually hang it on the wall when we move at some point. This is how much we love our maps. Yes. Yes. I love it too much, but, but I don't know. It's, it's like I can clearly recall like I probably been like 10 years old or something. Uh, uh, together with my younger brother, we had like this one, you know, these 83 sized pieces paper, it was some, you know, this Brown recycled paper stuff.

And we rolled it out across the dinner table, my parents dinner table in the living room, and we had multiple of these and we'd take them all together so they feel like the entire a table. And then we just started, I, I clearly remember like there was no real plan to it, but we just started throwing, okay, so here's some mountains and here's the city. And, and Oh, and then from there it just evolved into some sort of game that we started playing. Right. But, but I still remember that like that's the first memory I have of creating a map and I just loved, and I think my parents hated it because we occupied the table for like four days, but they're on a campaign going, yeah, exactly.

Yeah. But, but I, I don't know, I still have that recollection. I, I always, always loved,

Autumn (36m 29s): I think it would be a rare fantasy author who doesn't have some kind of map and world-building drive that or appreciation because that's sort of what's, it's a pillar of what makes a fantasy novel, a fantasy novel. And it hasn't been, I mean I've written and I do write occasionally in this world, but you still, you still need to get, Oh go look at the map of, of you know, how far is it from this distance and what are the unique features of this area. Cause I started in Wales and I found a place where there's actually this bridge that crosses an entire Lake in Wales.

It's like a mile and a half long. And I'm like that gotta use that somewhere. So it's still an exploration. It's still looking at maps. I think it's just appreciate appreciation for the realism that's there. So I know before we wrap up, do we want to give any like specific steps if you're making a map, you know, we said, okay, list out the areas you need, then you're going to do your coastlines after coastlines. I usually would do rivers. And from rivers cities, but I know also, I mean, do we have to worry about if you're really going to be realistic, you're looking at tectonic plates, which is what would create the mountains, uh, weather patterns.

These are all parts of actually making a map and it's, it's complicated, but yeah. You know, sometimes it doesn't have to be if it's a very small map

Jesper (37m 54s): yeah, I I, yeah. As you started out by saying in the beginning, I have a full step by step guide on fantasy map making. Uh, and it's both available in an ebook and paperback. Maybe I'll just add the link in the show notes if anybody's interesting. But basically that talks you through step by step what order I would do things in because it does matter a bit. But maybe that's a bit too technical. But actually I was thinking autumn maybe. So if we're going by the assumption here that at least most of all us fantasy writers we like maps.

If we're using that SDS assumption, then I think that the reason that sometimes maps are not included in books is because it is

Autumn (38m 36s): too daunting to create the map maybe. But if we're now saying, okay fine, there is, you know, you can get the step by step guide on the order of it. So if we sort of put, take that out of the equation and say okay, the problem is then not the fact that you don't know what order to do things in and what to do, but maybe the, the the, if we didn't focus on the remaining problem that might be here and that is actually how do you, how do you make the map you know, why your hand drawing or using software, how do you do it?

Maybe that's a good place to sort of wrap up because I think that that, that's probably the only remaining hurdle that I can come up with right here. Well that's fair enough. And I will also, I will try to find the blog post that, um, my little fantasy met making one Oh one that we can add to the show notes as well. But if you're really, I think even when I start with maps, I still do hand drawing. And to me the, one of the biggest things is start with the biggest piece of paper you can get your hands because I, I the, I totally scrunched up my world and it still doesn't look right to me and I keep wanting to redo my original map because I started with like copy paper, you know, something, a letter size and eight and a half by 11 if he raped, drove really small.

But you know, go to the art store and buy yourself a poster side sheet of paper and, and start with that. Even if it's going, even if you're not an artist, um, it's just grab a pencil. I'd recommend pencil. I, I like being able to erase, but start with that and start with drawing. You know that for he'll put a. Dot. This is where your book starts. This is that first city. And then work out there from your coastlines. But after that, you know, if you are good with computers, if you, you can take that original map after you get it all sketched out in a raised and everything fit in where you want it to and you can do that online or you can take that and hire an artist to do it and they, they're still gonna say, Hey, you know, you can describe it to me just like you can describe it to your readers.

But a visual is so important no matter how rough and how horrible you think it looks. It really helps to have something scribbled out on paper to outline what it is you're hoping to see in your finished product. And there's some great programs out there. There's a photography programs, there's some, uh, people who do roleplaying games. There's some great things that you can make, some half decent maps that are out there. And of course, you know, I like to put all mine in Photoshop because I'm just, I just love Photoshops so much cause you're the person I have definitely grown to be very fond of the program, but it's not the only one out there.

There's some other great programs too, so you should learn to, yeah, I can just mention a fractional map one. There's skimp. There is a dope illustrator

Jesper (41m 34s): there was incarnate, which has actually become better and better and better with the latest releases that they've made. And then there's also cam campaign cap tracker for three, which is the software that I used before sort of a autumn state and took over the map to sign. But uh, yeah, there's, there's quite a lot of options out there. Some of them are easier to use. Some of them are more complicated. I mean Kemp campaign can talk earth chakra for three. Jesus, that's how to stay. Um, that, that one is a bit complicated to you, that it has a steep learning curve.

Uh, but again, I mean go to our YouTube channel and there was actually, again, a step-by-step, I like those step by step things, but there is a step by step video series actually take you from scratch to, uh, using campaign could track over three up and exactly where to click and what to do. So there is that on the YouTube channel if you want. But otherwise there are, there are these different tools incarnate as far as I see, I've not tried it myself, but as far as I've seen all the tutorial videos, it's looks like it's pretty easy to use.

Um, and I think what I would say is that if you want to put your map into a book that you're going to publish, then I agree with what autumn said in the sense that it's great to use these different tools or even if you do it the hand drawing, that's fine as well. But it's great to use something to get to an illustration of how, what you want the map to look like, right? So that you can easily see here all the cities here, the mountains and, and blah, blah, blah, blah.

Everything is there. And so did you can give it to somebody who knows what they're doing. Uh, and then they will do the final touches on it and shine it up so that it becomes something that you can put into a novel. Uh, because you don't want to put in like let's say a campaign campaign tracker for three on incarnate or whatever, gimp or whatever you're using. You don't want to put ex tracked of that into a novel because it doesn't look professionally enough. So there is that caveat.

Yes. But of course, if you can give the artist, here it is, it's exactly like this, you know, in terms of the placement of everything. And then just give them a bit of freedom and say, you know, play with it at the design of it, you know, make it, make it look professional and good. But I just want the different cities and the names and whatnot and the mountains and the rivers and all the other stuff. I wanted to look like this, but the actual finish touch of it or the layout, uh, I don't know if you can use that word, but you can, you know, feel free to, to be an artist and, and make that look really good.

Uh, as long as you don't move things around on the map. Right. And being from the artist's point of view where I've done this for other authors, yes. That, that map the sketch, knowing where if someone wants to coastlines is just huge. You, you're going blind if you don't have that. So no matter how you feel about your drawing skills,

Autumn (44m 32s): sketch it out and even it helps almost to finish writing the book before you try to get the map completed. Cause you'll be surprised at how many times you add something new through your first book and even through your subsequent books. I mean, I had, I had some features created by my characters that I had to add in later for later additions. But that's sort of the fun of creating a map and actually having the world grow with your stories.

Narrator (45m 0s): Perfect. I think that's a wrap. Next Monday we'll cover something that is heavily debated and that is how much should you read when you're writing. If you like what you just heard, there's a few things you can do to support the amwritingfantasy podcast. Please tell a fellow author about the show and visit us at Apple podcast and leave a rating and review. You can also join autumn and Yesper on for as little as a dollar a month.

You'll get awesome rewards and keep the amwritingfantasy podcast going. Stay safe out there and see you next Monday.

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