“Some of my favorite books have maps…”
Our friend, Jared, had agreed to give the manuscript of the first novel in the Trickster series a copy edit pass. He handed back the pile of pages, and we discussed topics other than mechanical copy edits. One of the questions he had for me was whether I planned to create a map of the fictitious world to include in the book.
One reason was that there are some places where it is a bit confusing where some of the groups of traveling people are in the story.
I have a very rough map sketched out in my notes, along with description that would just be long exposition in the book. There is description of the setting, but generally I keep it short and focused on the immediate vicinity of the characters. I really don’t want to write a scene where one character says to another, “As you know, Philippe, the empire is bordered on the south by four independent lands: the Duchy of Molalla, the Duchy of Falatin, the Tlatskan Marches, and the Duchy of Matilla. The river Klitwatchee defines the border, and it’s many tributaries define the major trade routes between the larger cities of each…”
When one of the characters is actually at the river, I mention that the opposite bank is another country, but no one really wants a detailed geography lesson plopped into the middle of the adventure tale, right?
I feel a little reluctance to put in a map because of a number of reviews I recall reading some years ago (as in, when I was in my teens) disparaging such maps in fantasy novels. I don’t really recall all of the reasons that were given for treating the maps with such derision. I remember a suggestion it denoted either laziness or a case of copying all the more successful epic fantasy novels. Or something.
Which I realized is weird. I have somehow internalized these opinions that I only vaguely recall reading, and it’s made me ambivalent about the idea of including a map.
While I was talking about this, a couple of our other friends scoffed at the derisive commentaries. One said, “Some of my favorite books have maps!”
The consensus seemed to be that a map wouldn’t hurt. Since the plot of the novel does involve several characters traveling, not to mention a battle with multiple armies, a map would probably be quite useful for at least some readers.
So I guess I need to draw a better map.