Maps for World-Building Fantasy Novels

Fantasy novels take a lot of world-building. Part of that is the map. If you’re creating your own world, you need (as well as your reader, possibly) a map to keep confusion at bay. What if you wrote a book about traveling America but didn’t know the size, shape or organization of America? It would be confusing for most. To avoid confusion or just help immerse readers in your world, a map is a no-brainer and can be a great boon.

But how? Who creates a map? How do you create a map?

I did quite a bit of research into this. I was tempted to have someone on Fivver create a map for me. This is still a fantastic option and one in which I may do in the future. But if you need to constantly change your map based on writing your book, you need something you can edit yourself.

Enter Campaign Cartographer 3.

This fancy little program allows you to create a great looking map with relative ease. It isn’t a huge investment and if you write fantasy, it will more than pay for itself. And trust me when I say I explored LOTS of different options before settling with CC3. This one looked like the best.

But it’s so confusing! I don’t know how to use a program like this!

Fear not. I was in the same boat. In fact, I’m STILL learning. But I found some FANTASTIC tutorials on Youtube by Joe Sweeney. The gentleman has a multi-part youtube video that takes you through creating a basic map. He also offers his email for additional help. This man got me through my first map for From the Ashes, my in-progress fantasy series.

So what can you expect to create after these simple, easy-to-follow tutorials? I’m no expert, but the map above is the one I created for my From the Ashes series. I’ll expound on it for each book with pertinent information, but it has all the necessary info for the first book. The videos take a little time and then a couple days (totaling a couple hours) to finish the map. Don’t consider it time away from writing. Because it’s not. It’s just not writing words. But it is working on your novel. It’s world-building and worth the time to create it.

If you’ve been wondering if you should have a map in your book, or even if  a map would help you organize, the answer is yes. Sometimes even as authors, we get confused about where we placed the Forbidden Swamp….was it northeast of the cotton fields or southeast? If you had a map, you’d remember!

What are some tools that have helped you stay organized when writing? Do you have another map maker you like?