Map Making

Do you create maps for your stories or not? Why?

If you do, I’d love to hear how you create maps and what your system for deciding geography is!

Top-down perspective and geolocating what I want before mapping it out. Adding tiles separated by the same length (eg one inch equals 50 miles) helps visualize distance between locations.

Adding @TheTigerWriter for visibility.


I’ll only do it after the story is done. I don’t want any fixed limitations during story creation.

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No, i don’t make maps. I just like writing.

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I’ve only created a few maps since I began writing. And by few, I mean two, just bigger-sounding.

Usually, I just don’t need them. If a story is set within what is essentially just the character’s home and school, I don’t believe it’s necessary to map out how many steps it would take them to get to class in the morning.

I’m horrible at pantsing, though, in the way that I tend to make my characters go all over the place without rhyme or reason. Some of the journeys… just haven’t made sense. So what I do now is if I know my character is going to travel AT ALL, I will make up a map beforehand, basically like @Lawreyon described, and then trace their journey as I go along.

It keeps me accountable. And it means one less thing that’ll have to be edited out later.

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Map making is my career, so I make maps for my stories. Since both my stories are fantasy in their own world, I just use my knowledge of how geography works when mapping. Obviously not all real-world geogphraphy and geology is going to apply, but it’s a good starting point.

Unless the world is based off earth, then there’s no need to worry about making the map measurable either which makes everything a lot easier.

Map making is really and art over a science, so applying those tricks and creativity will usually result in a more interesting looking map.


For my fantasy novel ‘Amarith’ I had to, because I had multiple groups of characters in various parts of the world and needed to be able to track them in relation to one another, as well as figure out how far they could ride in a day.

I started by using marbling dyes on paper to create some organic shapes, then scanned it so I could use the magic select tool in Photoshop. This gave me a really natural shape for the continents.

I then used a whole lot of brushes, some free to use, and others I made myself, to fill in the details and the landforms.


Because I’m a geology nerd, when I make maps (which I do digitally so I can overlay different information sets) I begin with tectonic plates. I give the plates directions and that way I can map out the land masses, islands, mountain ranges, volcanos and earthquake zones. Once I have the basic map, I decide on climate zones and a prevailing wind direction. From that, I can decide of the areas of highest rainfall and the path of the rivers.

When you know where water is, you know that people will follow. I’ll chuck down some cities along rivers, beside lakes and by the sea etc. Then I’ll work out areas of industry (mining, forestry, agriculture etc) and lay down some transport routes.


That’s a smart idea!

Thank you all for sharing, sorry I haven’t responded much.

What. Hi XD

Some stories I created maps. Others I haven’t. The reason I didn’t was because I didn’t need to mostly because the characters were jumping from one doughnut-shaped world to the next and didn’t stay walking around in one place all the time. Even if they did, it was a place where things shifted around all the time so I couldn’t even make a map for it.

It’s hard to make a map for a place that shifts :stuck_out_tongue:

The few maps I did make, I used Inkarnate. One was for a lit fic story situated in a fictional Earth. I call it the Map of the (other) World. Another was for a series I’m working on now. I made the map before I knew what I wanted to do with the story. It was more about me having fun making a map.


I suck at scale and just decided where to put deserts and snow areas on a whim while, also, of course, understanding a little about how climate works.

Tagging @SmokeAndOranges who’s great at this stuff.


I’ve heard good things about Inkarnate. I personally prefer to draw by hand, though I know that’s not a skill everyone is confident in. I’ve got a rough map for my world currently, but also a half-finished good copy. That one’s just under two feet by three so I can go into detail on the parts with detail.

It helped me to have a series, and also to have very mobile characters. They themselves have no set distance measurements, but they measure everything by time: two days from here to here, or two months, etc. I spent several hours combing through my books to find all references of travel times, reconciled them all with each other (only had to make two edits in the books; I was pretty pleased), and made a scale based on an average travel speed. I just finished plotting everything on the map at geographically accurate distances. Very satisfying.

I want the final result to correlate roughly to how my characters see their own world, so there’s no topography or standardized labels—I’m only going to label things mentioned in the book. The whole thing fades out towards the edges detail-wise, to match the knowledge extent of the world’s inhabitants. I might add travel routes of note from the book, but my current inclination is to just add those digitally after.

As for why I made it? For fun :smile:

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Yep! I have a map in my book…but it’s not necessary. I just like maps, personally.

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okay sometimes, but i only draw them. i don’t make them for the audience, it’s really just myself so that i can remain spatially aware. i wish i had more map-making skills because some fantasy books have incredible maps that i could stare at for days.

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I love to make maps for stories, it’s one of the parts of worldbuilding that I look forward to the most when creating a new world.

I’m not an artist so I use free programs like Inkarnate to create my maps.

This is a map from the story I am currently writing.

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I’ve made mine before, but they need to be edited, because they were back in 2013 and it’s so cringy just by looking at them.