How To Create A Map For Your Fantasy World [World Building]

Map making is an art in itself. It’s fun, yes, but it’s not as easy as it seems. Creating a map is like writing the first draft of a novel. You’ll most likely have to do it over a couple of times until you get this right and every place has a special spot.

Mapping Your Fictional World | World Building | Fantasy | Creative Writing | RachelPoli.com

Do You Need A Map?

Depending on your story, you may not need a map. If your story remains in one location, maybe two or three, then you most likely don’t need a map.

However, if you’re writing a series, if your characters are traveling a lot throughout the world, or even if you just mention a lot of names and certain characters live in different areas, then you may need a map.

How To Create A Map

1. Make a list of people and places.

Think about the countries, the cities inside them, and the people who reside in each city. If you have different races of people, like Lord of the Rings, for example, they may live in certain areas of the world.

2. Create a general shape and size of your world.

Draw an outline of the world and then you can start forming smaller shapes on the inside. Then you plug in the names of the countries and cities.

3. Think of the terrain.

Where are the oceans, rivers, and lakes? What about the mountains? Are there any rainforests or deserts? Draw those in. Keep in mind the weather and the seasons.

Tips For Creating Your Map

1. Decide what kind of map you want.

There are different kinds of maps such as physical maps (the one you’d most likely use), topographic maps, road maps, climate maps, and a lot more. What information do you want your readers to get out of looking at the map?

2. Study geography

There are plenty of map making tools on the internet, but if you draw your map, you want it to look as realistic as possible. Take a look at real maps and get a feel for how they show mountains and more.

How do you create maps for your worlds? Let me know in the comments below, I’d love to chat! If you enjoyed this post, please share it around.

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14 thoughts on “How To Create A Map For Your Fantasy World [World Building]

  1. The only time I’ve ever made a map is for the current story I’m working on. But it’s not for to be included in the final product. I needed it to help orient myself geographically in the world because movement and places and their histories are important to know (at least for me) to be able to write the story.

  2. One thing is distance. A lot of even otherwise good stories get distances wrong. So either leave it vague or do the research. Thankfully, this gives a good impression of how fast travel was in the ancient world (you can look up pretty much anywhere in the Roman Empire at its height). http://orbis.stanford.edu/

  3. I heard of a trick (perhaps on Pinterest) where you roll a bunch of 12-sided dice onto a table. The outline of the group is your continent, and the different numbers stand for different geographical features (such as 3 being water and 9 being a mountain). I think that’s a neat way to build a map!

    • Yes! I’ve seen that and want to do it! I need to get the dice though… my sister and I are trying to learn D&D and all the dice are so pretty so I’m sure I’ll collect a bunch soon, lol.

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