Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Three ways maps relate to writing

I had to do it. It was a stretch, but I finally found 3 ways to relate maps to writing. My sidebar says "I love history, faith, maps and mythical creatures." While I've talked plenty about mythical creatures (and you will surely hear more) (please don't take that as a threat) I haven't mentioned the others much.

So: maps. I'm crazy about maps. The book I'm most eagerly anticipating right now? Maphead: Charting the Wide, Wierd World of Geography Wonks by Ken Jennings (famous as a Jeopardy! game show champion). The book doesn't release until Sept 20 - I can barely stand it! Many future blog posts will be written about it! (please don't take that as a threat).

Okay, I know not all of you can relate to my map-fascination (ahem, reminding myself that the focus of this blog is writing. Mostly.)  But maps can relate to writing in at least three ways:

 1. Maps can help you with setting details. This doesn't necessarily mean creating a complex fantasy map like Tolkien's famous maps of Middle Earth. You don't even have to create a map at all. Even if your book is set in your home town or some other familiar place, take a moment to look at a map of it. The map may jog your memory, as in, "oh! - I forgot about that park with the miniature fortress, what a great setting for one of my scenes." And if you do like the idea of actually creating your own map, the process may take you in fascinating new directions. Check out this Map of an Englishman; it will give you a whole new perspective on maps.

2. Mind-mapping is a great brainstorming tool for writing. A mind-map starts with a central idea, then branches off into related topics using mental associations. At first your ideas and associations may be cliche, but as you keep expanding your map, your brain starts jumping to unusual spots and new creative directions. Here's the best article I've found so far on using mind-mapping for fiction writing.

3. Maps are great for revealing patterns - both in your writing, and in your life. This post, Map of your Mind, explains it a lot better than I can (this is a different sort of mind-mapping than mentioned above) (bonus: it includes a picture of an awesome scary mullet).

Have you ever come across a map that was striking to you in some way? This map geek would love to hear about it!

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