Maps in Fantasy

Discussion in 'Fantasy' started by ABatch, Jan 9, 2016.

  1. Diziet Sma

    Diziet Sma Hired Nicomo Cosca, famed soldier of fortune

    Having a beautiful map in a story is like having a Rioja with your favourite dish. Not utterly necessary but, why not enjoy both...?
     
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  2. Tanniel

    Tanniel Hired Nicomo Cosca, famed soldier of fortune

    I tend to lend towards "il n'y a pas de hors-texte". Book cover, map, website etc. can all be part of the experience. Not necessary, no, but if you're putting this much effort into writing a book, why not go the extra mile and adorn it with all the trappings you can.
     
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  3. Bierschneeman

    Bierschneeman Journeyed there and back again

    Oooo....
    So addressing the elric map question.

    Yes there are maps in the elric saga, or were.....or will be again... okay here's the skinny, in the first run (1970s) of the saga there were maps, in the 90s printing there were also maps (same with multilingual publications) but in the 2000s Moorcock removed the maps. Probably because they were fun, and interesting, but weren't necessary. (The British publications are seperate, in different orders and unknown to me)
     
  4. Bierschneeman

    Bierschneeman Journeyed there and back again

    I love maps. I carry multiple road maps on trips (despite a gps) I go hiking with high quality contour maps. I love looking up old political maps, and modify my own for various reasons. (I have one that is blank and I use my computer to fill in the countries whose coins I have collected, color coded so I know which folder they are in) so any excuse to pour over a map is fine by me.

    Maps in fantasy novels, if they are really good and the path weaves this way and that. I will reference it often. (Sometimes if i feel lost when a book keeps referencing place names, i will look for a map, if it isnt there i am sad) A poor map will get a chuckle and I might not reference it again.

    If you put a scale on it... it had better be correct. Can't have them take a month to go 20 miles and a day to go 60.
     
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  5. Darth Tater

    Darth Tater Journeyed there and back again

    I cannot decide what is worse. A lousy Kindle map or no map at all. They both give me a headache. But the crappy map makes my eyes hurt as well.
     
  6. Diziet Sma

    Diziet Sma Hired Nicomo Cosca, famed soldier of fortune

    Well, a lousy map with a stupid, made up legend which drives you to despair and the sense of proportionality of one of my 6 year old students...
     
  7. Nuomer1

    Nuomer1 Ran bridges next to Kaladin

    Second that. Kindles just can't handle maps, which need to be bigger, preferably coloured, and/or on fold-out sheets.
    Apart from that - I like maps!
     
  8. Darth Tater

    Darth Tater Journeyed there and back again


    I learned a little trick after 2 years which by no means alleviates the problem but it does make a difference. Maybe you already know how to do this. If you hold your finger down on the map it turns black. Which in and of itself helps but there is a magnifying glass and it does make it a little easier to see.
     
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  9. Nuomer1

    Nuomer1 Ran bridges next to Kaladin

    I mostly read on an old 'Kindle Original' - without the touch screen!
    Yes, fair enough, I know there are tweaks and magnifications on old Kindles and on Fires, but I rarely use them except for scientific diagrams, and then they are usually more trouble than they are worth.
     
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  10. Olli Tooley

    Olli Tooley Philosophizes with Kellhus

    Kindle makes a mockery of all that lovely formatting you work so hard over.
    Special fonts, deliberate layout nuance, and oh dear! Maps!
    I had a lovely map across two pages in my first book. I did spend quite a bit of time trying to get it to work well on Kindle. Don't really know if I succeeded well enough.
    I do love a map, and will often reference it several times while reading the book. Maybe it's an autism thing?
     
  11. Olli Tooley

    Olli Tooley Philosophizes with Kellhus

    This thread has reminded me, I had intended to post the map online and create a link to it in the Kindle edition.
    *Scratches head and wonders why he didn't*
     
  12. Darth Tater

    Darth Tater Journeyed there and back again

    The maps are maddening. But the font sizes and styles of type are truly a blessing for me. But I've already been put out to pasture and my vision is not nearly what it was in the past. There are 2-3 styles I tend to switch to about once a year. Plus for dyslexics they have a special style. So I think that is a good thing. (If that is what you meant?)
     
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  13. ExTended

    ExTended Hired Nicomo Cosca, famed soldier of fortune

    Well - as a reader I am quite neutral toward maps. The first two ever fantasy series I've picked up like 10-12 years ago were The Lord of the Rings( which had a beautiful map from the movies) and The Wheel of Time( it had a very beautiful full color two-page map printed on fancy and glancy white paper and such) and at that time I was fascinated by the idea of maps, they somehow made the imaginery worlds more real to me. The races and cultures in the books weren't residing only between the pages, but also had a place of their own in a great looking map and that somehow made them feel distinct and significant, and it also gives your brain the impression that something( a people, a village, a culture, a mountain or a fortress) have been sitting there for a very long time, a sense that is significantly harder to be realized through words alone, especially if the author is not that big on discriptions. So back then I've loved the maps.

    But gradually as I've continued reading through the years I would check or memorize important map locations less and less, and at that point such maps become redundant for the reader. I like having them there, in case I need them, but in my opinion a good book should give you enough spatial awareness so that you don't need to reference to a map at all, and most books actually do that quite well.

    And since I've been reading exclusively audiobooks for the past two or three years, I'd say I took into the habbit of almost completely ignoring the idea of maps, because this would mean that I would either need to find a map in advance or stop the flow of the story to go and Google for it. I rarely do either of those.

    As an author... I don't like maps at all. I hate the idea of them, actually. I am currently working on 4-5 different series, sometimes as much as 7 or 8. It's not a very effective way of getting books done, but it helps me to avoid writing blocks and enables me to introduce fresh ideas into the series as I go, since I haven't written half a book of series A last week that would need a complete revamp on my part if I want to slot the new idea. Ultimately I am developing 7-8 series, dotting out ideas for another 7-8 in separate folders, and having a word file with another 15 series ideas that I am waiting my brain to expand on. If I've had to commit myself to developing a map for each and every one... it's just not a very feasable way for me to spend my writing time. And should I decide to make a significant geographical change for the sake of the story... back to ground zero with the map.

    Also I suck at drawing. My profession revolves around creating the right images( with the right text copy) for the right crowd, then promoting the shit out of them - that is to say I am using Photoshop on almost daily basis. I also work with graphic designers to bring my more complicated ideas to life, and frankly - to save some time. But the idea of devoting 20 or more hours into developing a map, not to mention the 500-1 000$ for the map designer, is quite daunting for me. Because once the map is ready and published, it's set in stone, you cannot do creative-inspired changes to it and you have to be 10 times more careful every time you talk about distances or landscapes... and while you should be always careful to keep the continuinity of your setting, it adds another layer of complexity to the already complex world of self-publishing.

    As of now I am not planning on including maps to my series, at the time of their publishing. I've learned how to use a software called Cartographer or something like that, so that I can make some maps for myself - I still need the basic geographical traits and points of importance in my worlds, but this is more to ensure that I won't say a town is west on page 100 and then put the town at the east part on page 200, than anything else. I don't expect those maps to ever grace the first pages of my actual books. :D They are in fact quite awful, as you might've guessed.
     
  14. TomTB

    TomTB The Master Tweeter Staff Member

    As a reader I love the way it was done in Wheel of Time, with a large map at the front, then detailed maps of various cities/places as you progress. It really helps with immersion into the story, but I appreciate this is a lot of work for the author and their graphic team!

    I don't think I've come across better maps than Wheel of Time thinking about it.
     
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  15. Tanniel

    Tanniel Hired Nicomo Cosca, famed soldier of fortune

    That does sound clever. I'll have to steal this idea for future releases.
     
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  16. Darth Tater

    Darth Tater Journeyed there and back again

    Good call, Tom. I think we take Jordan for granted sometimes. I couldn't tell one thing from the other in the small close up maps of the cities but that large map was invaluable and really enhanced my understanding and enjoyment of the series!

    I guess people are saying it is difficult to draw a map. My lefty artistic skills are deficient to the point that only my stick men are acceptable. You should see me at Pictionary. But I have no doubt that despite this, after a few practice runs I could draw a pretty good map. It's just a few scribbles and straight lines. I know nothing about computers but I've no doubt there is a program to help.

    I think many people depend on maps, even crude ones, and as long as an author is putting so much effort into writing I really cannot understand why they would not satisfy a great number (majority ?) of their readers with a map. Anything. Crooked lines for countries, circles for lakes and ^^^^^ for mountains. What am I missing here?
     
  17. Tanniel

    Tanniel Hired Nicomo Cosca, famed soldier of fortune

    I'm reiterating myself a bit, probably, but I definitely think it's worth either spending the time to learn making a great map yourself or hire someone to do it. With all the new releases, fantasy readers are becoming discerning. Just as a cheap book cover sends a signal to the reader about the book's content, whether deservedly so or not, so may a map do the same to a lesser degree.
     
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  18. ExTended

    ExTended Hired Nicomo Cosca, famed soldier of fortune

    It depends on ones priorities I guess.

    As I've said, while I am more than passable of Photoshop( and Cartographer), I am still a long way from building a map befiting a quality fantasy book. For me, especially in self-publishing, it all comes down to where you allocate your limited resources.

    While many people wouldn't think of it that way, writing a 150k book for me means spending 200+ hours writing it, 200+ hours translating it into my imperfect English, and then paying someone( whi is a competent native English editor) a 1 000$ from my own pocket to polish my frasings, and make it of decent readable quality. Then another 500$ to another editor/proofreader to tidy up any loose ends. Then 500$ on a cover, 200$ on blurb and formatting, etc. And of course another 100+ hours spend in revision. So that's what - 500+ hours working on the book and 1700$ on making it presentable.

    It's common knowledge that it's hardly worth your efforts to market a series unless you have at least three books in it - so make it 3 x 500+ hours and 3 x 1700+$. Yes, 5k isn't that much investment in ones career, right? Well, wrong - I've also spend 1 500 hours working on the three books( maybe for native english speakers it would be 1 000).

    Truth is - my profession is creating value out of thin air. My marketing services are relying on that, my offline and online businesses are relying on that, my writing career is relying on that. If I am to spend my time doing the most profitable thing for me, which isn't writing at this point, I could earn 25-50$ for any hour spent in genuine work. However, for me genuine work means creativity on, proficiency on, and luck on. So while I am often working 12 hours a day, only half of them are really meaningful, effectively-spent time. And if I use that time to work on book - well, I don't get paid 25-50$ an hour. So how much is 1 500 x 25$? A lot. Add that to the 5k $ already out of my pocket. Those are all resources spent in creating the bare minimum you need to cover in hope of this trilogy somehow making it. If it sucks - you are quite frankly fucked. :)

    This is a huge, huge risk. Huge investment of ones resources. And then you need to think about marketing and somehow making it all worth in the end. Bear with me - there is a point to this post.

    Remember how I've said in order to get a map done I'd need to spend 20+ hours working on it + paying someone 1 000$ to make it happen? Well, that's another 1 500 - 2 000$ you invest in that trilogy.

    The question is - would it be a prudent thing to do? Writing a series of books is already an extravaganze that might pay off or not. But at least we've done the necessary things right. However, I'd imagine that spending those extra 1 500$ on getting better covers would in fact be better for my sales. Of hiring an extra proofreader to go through my work. Or... getting a better editor in the first place.

    Or... I can use those 1 500$ to bring 15-30k people to my website or amazon page and make them aware of my series.

    What I am saying is - I don't want to be a starving artist. I never did. I take every project of mine seriously and while I'd love to create the perfect fantasy series full of awesomeness and wonder, and custom-made maps and comissioned artwork at the start of every chapter... well, those things cost resources - be it in hours spent learning/practicing a new craft, paying someone to do it, navigate the person you paid to do the map...

    Now, if the series were to become succesful and profitable - then yes, reinvesting in things like maps and art for merchandise, and such would be quite prudent. But self-publishing( or any type of business) isn't about wishing, it's about using what you've got at your disposal in the smartest way possible, and while I wish I had more artistic talents in me, music and painting are the two things that are not my element and I have to deal with that fact. And so would have my potential readers for the time being. :)
     
  19. Tanniel

    Tanniel Hired Nicomo Cosca, famed soldier of fortune

    Where are you getting these figures? I paid €250 for my map, and I'd argue it's top quality. I certainly can't imagine getting a map that's four times the quality because it's priced four times as much.

    That's really my point; a professional, beautiful map doesn't have to cost much, and the low cost makes it more than worth it for any indie author. It's an easy way to stand out.
     
  20. ExTended

    ExTended Hired Nicomo Cosca, famed soldier of fortune

    You'd have to hook me up someday then, because I've got a few leads from fellow authors in the past and it was all like 500$ for mediocre work and 1 000$ for something that you won't be ashamed to put in front of your book. I'd guess as with everything freelance it just comes down to whom you hire.
     

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