Geography and the Fantasy World

  When we write a fictional story, we start out with an idea of what we want to write, but sometimes we begin by making the world up as we go along.  This is especially true in a fantasy or sci-fi tale. Once you have defined what the pivotal struggle in your new story will be, you need to make sure that you have your geographical setting well defined.

I draw maps as I am writing my first draft.  By doing that while I am setting the original story down I know that ‘Billy Nine-fingers has his base of operations a day’s ride north of Somber Flats’.  That is important because in a later chapter I could incidentally mention that his base is a day’s ride SOUTH of that same burg.   That could get ugly at some point, and going back to make corrections is very tricky business.  It is hard to know for sure if you have caught all your small errors.

Also, if your characters are going to be doing a lot of traveling it is good to know from the outset what sort of land they will be traveling in, as your story will form in your mind more quickly.  I first define my world with a world map, noting the shape of the continents.  How large is your protagonist’s country?  Does it have near neighbors? By making a note of these things at the outset you now have another opportunity to introduce tension into your story.    Mountains, swamps, rivers and oceans are all important when you are adding local color to your background.  Knowing their relationship to your character’s home and the effect they will have on his story is essential.

Many authors use locales that either currently exist or once existed in the real world.  This is a good way to do it, because your world is already well defined for you, and most everyone knows that Portland Oregon is about 150 miles south of Seattle Washington.  You are safe using currently existing terrain.   However, if you are writing a tale where the world is greatly different than the real world, you must make sure that you have first detailed and documented it on a good
readable (to you) map.  Your story will flow much easier, and you will not have to worry about incidental contradictions that a reader WILL notice.

Even though I write fantasy I live in the real world.  By now everyone is aware that in the real world there is the ongoing tragedy for the people of Japan, and the living nightmare that daily affects their lives. Continuing earthquakes, nuclear disaster; these things have decimated Japan’s ecology and its economy. Uncounted numbers of people have been displaced and thousands are dead.  If you have the desire to donate to any of the many wonderful organizations that are on the ground in Japan and in the other devastated parts of this world here are the links to their very wonderful websites where you can make your donations and be assured that the funds go to the people as you have intended.

These organizations will take them food, and help them to rebuild their lives.  We can’t bring back their loved ones, or take away the horror of what they are living through but we can mitigate it in some way, and I urge you to consider making a donation to one of these fine charities.  This is the real world, and it is no fantasy for those who must live it.

The American Red Cross is out there fighting the good fight.

Also Catholic Relief Services is on ground zero helping anyone that they can.

Samaritan’s Purse is highly recommended to me as a world class charity.

However, my personal favorite of all these charities is World Vision

God bless all these people and the people they work so tirelessly to help.



Filed under Adventure, Books, Fantasy, Japan, Literature, Romance, Swashbuckling, Uncategorized, writer, writing

2 responses to “Geography and the Fantasy World

  1. Fantastic blog, Connie. Personally, I love maps. I loved the maps for Narnia, and The Lord of the Rings, and Oz – and I love yours. Have you considered printing it and framing it?

    I did one map for my truly dreadful first novel. It worked as a device to center and organize my action, but it certainly was never as lovely as yours.