Creating New Worlds: Part Seven: Location and Mapping

Author: Anastasia V. Pergakis // Category:

I have good news - this post doesn't require any research either! But it does require a bit of work and thought. What? You think this is easy? It is really, just takes a little bit of time to figure out that's all. It's well worth it to have your story make sense!


Yes, the story takes place somewhere - obviously. The question is where? I try to have major locations like cities and countries figured out before I begin writing. I don't have ALL of the citites the characters might visit, but I do have a few (one or two usually). You will add more to the list as you write your story of course. I know other people that just go with it and come up with locations as they go along. It's all up to you.

Naming your location can depend on a few things but we will talk about that later this week.

Distance is a crucial part that I really want to focus on here. I discovered a while back that a person can walk across New York state in about two days. It takes a two hour drive for me to go from my house in Columbus, Georgia to the airport in Atlanta. You have to figure out how long it takes your characters to get from one place to another. The key here is consistency. If it takes your characters two days to get from point A to point b, then it better take them two days to get back.

Yes, things can come into the characters path to slow their progress. But, if they are only hindred by one day, you need to know how much longer it will take them to reach their destination.

I do this by making a map (which we will talk about more in just a second). On a printed out map of my world on a 8x11 standard sheet of paper, I usually go with the thought that say 1/4 of an inch equals one day of travel on foot.

If you don't make an actual map of your world, instead just envision it in your head. I highly recommend making a map though. It makes it so much easier for me to remember that one city is NORTH of another when writing. Otherwise, I tend to get that all mixed up and the characters head south instead!


As I said before, I think making a map is valuable tool to have. Even if your story takes place say in Chicago - buy a map of the city! It can greatly help you with distances and travel time.

I use a free program called "AutoREALM" to build all of my maps. Here is one that I made for my story "The Kinir Elite Chronicles".

The program allows you to add the tree and building icons - and there are a lot of different styles to choose from. If you don't want that much detail, you can make a map like this instead. This one is for "The Story of William Archer" It doesn't have much going on to it right now as the story is still in the planning phase, but you can see that you still can make a simple but clear map.

I'm sure there are other great map making programs out there, but this one is really versitale. You can even make layouts of the interior of buildings! Like the layout of the castle or someones room. It has icons and textures for everything you can think of!

I used to hand draw my maps but it was really hard to do. I give anyone major kudos that can do this. For me it was the point that while writing I would decide I needed another city plotted on the map or I had to move a city to the other side of the country. That would require me drawing an entirely new map! Which took time that I just didn't have. With the map makers, I can easily just click and paste a new point or move one around, save, and print. Takes much less time to update it that way.

These two really go hand in hand for me. I can't really decide how far apart cities are until I make a map, but I can't make a map until I have a few points figured out. I update my map numerous times as I write so that it stays up to date and I don't get lost in my own world.

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