Saturday, February 16, 2008

World Building--Geography and Maps


World Building: Geography & Maps

By Paul Genesse


The world you create is an important character in your fiction.

Develop the personality of the place where your story is set.


●Write a biography on your setting from the land’s point of view. Here’s a sample from a bio I wrote for my fantasy novel, Medusa’s Daughter.

“I am Kastaros, the island of the cursed. Once I was the home of a great people, but they have gone now, killed or scared away when the fire and vapors within me boiled forth. Only those cursed by the gods live upon me now.

The sea tries to cool my shoulders, but it will never tame me. Storms and rain may come and slowly erode my slopes, but I will rise again if need be. Perhaps someday I will tire of this existence in the windswept sea and explode until there is nothing left of me. I will spread out across the world, hide the sun and choke the world with my ash.”


● Keep in mind the most important geographic and other features that influence the people who live where you story is set. Please read Guns, Germs, and Steel by Jared Diamond to learn more. Decide if the land has:

Stable agriculture?

Navigable rivers?

Mountains, deserts, or bodies of water that close it off from other areas?

Plants that are easily domesticated?

Animals that are easily domesticated?

A mild or harsh climate?

Deadly diseases that are endemic to the area?

A population that has been there a long or short period of time?

Natural resources that benefit the local population?


●Resources to help you draw maps of your world.

Fractal Mapper

Campaign Cartographer by ProFantasy Software Ltd.

Autorealm (free)

Or hand draw it, scan it, put it in Power Point and type on it, or use a drawing program.

Great places to study maps:

National Geographic Atlas of the World and

Google Earth at or Google Mars at

Study maps in novels and games at the bookstore or library


SESchend said...

Thanks for the mapping links, Paul.

I was teaching a World Building class and needed a program to map the world collectively created.

Now, assuming I can make a transferrable map, I can set that up and use the world for the Game & Adventure Design class I'll be teaching starting in mid-March.

Let's talk more re: world building offlist; I'll share some notes, if you have the time to give me some feedback.


Alex Hall said...

Thanks - and I'll enjoy playing with those world building tools. I'm not seeing that AutoRealm link working, but I googled and found it here (link).

I also see that site with the fractal mapper - - has a solar system generator (and more than just one system - a 3D space map generator) - excellent! I've been searching for exactly that.