Friday, October 02, 2009

Friday Forays in Fiction: Mapping

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I'm still working obsessively on the FOS world building project I started last Sunday night. I blogged about it Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday. I've made several breakthroughs on the pesky issue of the cult that is a central or peripheral feature of nearly every story in the series. One of the places I found help with this was Holy Lisle's articles on world building. I'm itching to get my hands on her culture building clinic but for now I have to be content with the advice in the free articles on her site. And I've been given plenty to think about.

Earlier this week I identified several areas needing attention--a comprehensive master character roster and character info for the entire story world consolidated in one place; a master time line; family trees; cult belief system, history, founder--and have been applying myself to them. But in reading Holly's advice today I was reminded of something else that needs to be part of this process--maps and floor plans. With nearly a dozen novels in the works and over 100 characters spanning a century with a handful of global travelers among them the task seems quite daunting but I can see it necessity. It wouldn't do to have Faye walking out of the music salon and turning left to reach the kitchen and thirty scenes later having Julia exit the kitchen and cross a hallway to enter the salon. It would be embarrassing to have a character watching the sunrise from a window of a room on the north-west corner of the house. There are at least as many houses as there are stories; there's a military base; there's ranches, churches, motels. And of course there is the cult compound.

I don't have a computer program for creating maps. I don't even know if such a thing exists. So that means I'm going to have to DRAW. Not my forte. But I've done it before. I did once have a floor plan for the house Faye lives in, in Rag Doll Babies. I'd forgotten about it until I was reading the articles at Holly's. I still have a vivid 3D picture of the layout of that house in my mind.

Of course, I'm not about to stop everything until I can draw several dozen maps and floor plans. I'm going to tie that step to the prep of individual stories and a times individual scenes. Except for the cult's compound. That is in the urgent category which I'll be working on this month as I prep Julia's story for NaNo. I'll narrow my focus re mapping to the compound and Faye, Julia and Crystal's stories.

Holly demonstrates another benefit of mapping: Not only does mapping help you stay consistent from page to page and novel to novel but the process of mapping stimulates ideas for characters, plot and story world history. I'm finding that the principle applies even as I just picture the layout of a story location in my mind so I imagine that would increase in power and effect if I put pen to paper.

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