Stories take shape

I’ve been working furiously on a short story for a Torquere Press anthology. Closing date for submissions is this Wednesday, and I’m not there yet. Not quite.

Not at all, really. I had a story I wanted to write, and when I saw the submission brief I thought ‘ah hah! This is the perfect opportunity” so I started to write. Unfortunately, I sort of discovered that I didn’t actually know what was going to happen beyond points A and Z. I didn’t know where or how or who, really. So I dove in and I got completely stuck, and I backtracked and tried again, I wrote and wrote and then threw it all away and just used the ideas for another attempt.

A very rough map of a fantasy world

In case you thought I was kidding about my artistic skills

And then I decided that I really needed to know what my fictional world looks like, so I scribbled. It’s my usual quality of scribbling, really. I even misspell ‘mountains’ because I think it’s funny. The opposite page has the wheel of the year, and I modeled the country on that. Because if you can’t be a bit daft when designing the Elven plane of being, when can you?

I loved doing maps in Geography, because they’re a story in themselves. I just wish I could draw them better. When you look at a map you can see the history of the area written in the landscape. In my valley, for instance, you can see the way the river has cut through and make deductions about the lithography (rock types and formations) from that. You can see the Iron Age hill forts on the tops of the hills, a Roman villa on the lower slope opposite my house, the packhorse paths trailing over to the town from the hilltop villages and abandoned farms, and then you can see the remains of mills and the sprawl of industry in the valley bottom, and the dozens of churches that sprang up at that time.

If a picture paints a thousand words, a map paints ten thousand years.

2 thoughts on “Stories take shape

  1. Yup, I’m a massive map nerd; I find even the dullest place fascinating when mapped out. Atlas of Remote Islands is one of my favourite books.

  2. I really enjoy maps, drawing them or poring over them as I read a story. I like the color in yours! Mine tend to be no more than lines with dots for points of interest. I’ve often considered adding color or doing something to show topography; my worlds are generally very flat with sudden, steep mountain ranges.

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