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Thursday, 14 March 2013

The Place of the Map in Fantasy. Can You Help?

A fantasy without a map? Can you imagine it? I can’t, except for those unusual fantasies that are set in real places known by most of us, of course. But an epic fantasy, a swords and sorcery, a dragonworld; without a map? I can’t see how it would work. Readers would be lost in an invented world for which they had no key.

I’m currently editing volume two of an epic adult fantasy. The story actually started with the map I drew of the world I intended to invent. That was a long time ago. Other things have interposed themselves between the initial concept and the completion. But I’m well on the way to completing the second volume now and will then start on the final book. But I intend to publish volume one as soon as volume two is complete. I’ve hung on for this time because I know, from experience, how frustrating it is for a reader to start reading a series only to discover it is never completed. I can publish volume one and two in the full knowledge that volume is under way; something I hope will give readers the confidence to honour me with their loyalty.

But, to get back to the map. Mine was drawn on a piece of A1 sugar paper (that’s 22¼ by 33¾ inches for our American cousins, who don’t use A sizes for paper) in black ink. That has aged over the years until it has grown fragile and discoloured; an effect that makes it look like ancient parchment and lends it an air of authenticity. But, for readers to fully appreciate the land I’ve drawn, it would be best for them to experience that map at full size. Will I be able to convince a publisher to include such a large piece of folded paper within the covers of a printed book? Will I be able to attach such a large image to a digital format for ebook readers?   

Tolkien, Richard Adams, George Martin, et al made good use of maps in their work, of course. An invented land needs boundaries, scale, routes and, of course, names of places to give the reader some guide to the setting of the action. So, I believe the book will be incomplete without the map. My problem is in managing to include it. I’d appreciate any observations, thoughts, ideas or suggestions from all those out there with experience and/or imagination. Thank you.

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