When you’re worldbuilding, creating a map for your world can be helpful in seeing how kingdoms, cities, and towns fit together. Especially if your novel involves some sort of journey, a map can show you the logical paths to take to your characters’ destinations. A map adds an element of reality to your world and will absolutely make you feel like you’re getting somewhere.
Now, you can get into all types of mapmaking software that will allow you to customize every detail to your desire. But why get into spending money and learning how a software works with complicated instruction manuals that will take you at least a few days to learn the basics? My recommendation is getting a pen and paper or if you prefer, opening up a PowerPoint document and going to town.
Step 1: Understand the regions of your world.
Before you start mapping your universe, you need to understand how the world is broken up. Do you have multiple realms that you need to take into account? How many kingdoms or states do you have? How are those divided up: cities, towns, villages? You also want to make note of main geographical features that may divide up your land as well. Mountains, rivers, and forests can divide land or encircle it in such ways that can be important notes in your book. Go back to your notes from my Worldbuilding Questions series for help.
Step 2: Decide how to represent each place.
If you’re a fantastic artist who can draw beautiful buildings and detailed trees and mountain sides, you can skip over this section. If you’re like me and can’t really draw to save your life, you’re going to want to come up with some simple icons to represent your regions whether you’re drawing by hand or creating by computer. In terms of my PowerPoint, I used clipart of small houses to represent villages, a town hall to represent towns, and a group of skyscrapers to represent cities. Triangles became mountains, and blue lines became rivers. Make sure you write down your key so you’ll know what your icons stand for when you go back to edit your manuscript six months later.
Step 3: Create.
Once you’ve got all the logistical brainstorming out of the way, it’s time to create! Plan on spending at least an hour or two on your map even if you’re working with simple icons. This is a real opportunity to ground yourself in your world before you write your story. Really enjoy the process of creating your map. It’s fun!
Examples: The Three Realms