Maps and distance

Once you have established the languages which will be used in your world you can begin to develop the world in more detail. One of the best ways to start doing so is to draw a map. Now you can create a map of your world prior to creating a language as you can with the rest of the steps to do with creating the world however I find that if you do so you will need to go back and change things once you do because the language will set out how you name everything.
So where do you begin with map drawing, well firstly just put your pen to paper and let your imagination flow.
Your first map is simply putting your ideas down, roughly setting out where everything in your world is; it is best to think of this as your first draft. Once you are done with the first draft you will want to turn your attention to distance. I find that the best way to manage distance is to make up a ruler for yourself.
I use a small piece of coloured paper with markings set 0.4cms apart; each marking represents a day’s travel. I then use this ruler to count the distance between places on my map. Now here comes the tricky part, you may wish to count the day’s travel as the distance a person can walk in 12 hours or the distance a horse can travel in the same time. Personally I choose to go with a horse because in my world that is the main mode of transportation. As you may or may not know a horse can travel in a variety of ways which affect how far it can in 12 hours. I have researched this and have come up with an average from which I work.
A horse walks on average travels at 4 miles per hour which means in 12 hours a horse can travel 48 miles. Trotting is 8mph which covers 96miles and a canter is 16mph which covers 192miles. As for a horse pulling a carriage they travel at around 2mph covering 24miles in a day.
Now most people will ride a horse at a walk when travelling over long distances therefore I set my ruler against a horse walk meaning that they 0.4cms becomes 48miles. Therefore whenever I measure the distances between two places on my map I not only know how many days it would take a character to travel between them but also the distance it is. This not only allows to now make changes to my draft according to the distances I prefer but also to be able to write appropriate times for travel in my book.
But what if the characters travel at a canter sometimes or have to walk you may ask, well that is precisely why we chose a mode from which the days travel is set. Now that I have decided my 0.4cms is equal to 48miles I can calculate the distance and from there work out what the same distance would be at a walk or a canter. For examples say from A to B is 960miles, 20days by horse walk, to work out how long that would take as a canter simply divide 960 by 192 which gives you 5days, similarly a person walking is 960 divided by 36 which equals 26.6days. As you can see it is pretty straight forward.
Now once you have made changes according you your preference for distances you will want to draw up a second draft. You can either do this freehand again or as I prefer draw up grids on top of your first draft and do the same on the paper you will use for your second. Note that if you need to expand your map for the second draft you will need to do some calculations around grid sizes and numbers. Once you are done it’s a simple matter of drawing grid by grid a copy of your map, with reference to your distance changes of course.
This second draft usually ends up being the one I use when writing, and as you can see it may or may not be fully complete in terms of drawing, the parts in blue are features which will be fully drawn in my final map.
At some point you will want to create the final map the one which will either appear in your printed book or on your website. Once again you will want to draw up a grid and do as you did between your first and second draft. Now I suggest you leave this final map free from text, unless you have superb hand writing and do not need to change anything from one book to another.
As you can see from the above pictures you can add text after scanning which essentially makes your map into an infinite number of maps. This is particularly useful for tracking a visual history of the rise and fall of kingdoms and countries.
Just a few more notes on maps and distance and then we are done. Now you may wish to make close up maps for each book if they are taking place in different regions of your world or you may wish to make small rough maps of certain cities and locations to get your head around directions and layouts, I often do this for large cities, palaces, or forts. You may also wish to do a more stylised map like the below with key landmarks drawn in icon.
Lastly a few suggestions on distance, every so often your characters may find themselves straying from the roads in which case it is good to add days on to journeys. Now it is up to you how many you think are needed but as a rule of thumb I add on 2days for cross country, 3days for snow, and 4days for mountains, all of these of course can be added together if your character is travelling cross country in snow then into the mountains. It is just another way to add more realism to the times taken in your story.
So that’s all I have to say on maps and distance, next week we will be looking at climates and how to construct a calendar for your world.


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