Jill Williamson is a chocolate loving, daydreaming, creator of kingdoms. She writes weird books in lots of weird genres like fantasy (Blood of Kings and Kinsman Chronicles), science fiction (Replication), and dystopian (The Safe Lands trilogy). She's currently writing a post-apocalyptic book with all of you called THIRST in conjunction with the #WeWriteBooks series.
Find Jill on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, or on her author website, where you can read THIRST. You can also try two of her fantasy novels for free here and here.
Welcome to week four of #WeWriteBooks Wednesdays! You guys are doing so well! Keep it up. If you're new to #WeWriteBooks Wednesdays, I'm doing a series on how I write a book, one week at a time. And I'm posting my novel over on my author website, one chapter a week. Chapter 2 of THIRST is up now (click here to read it). The #WeWriteBooks series will end in a BIG contest at the end of August. For information on the contest, see #WeWriteBooks Post 1.
Today's Topic: Maps and FloorplansTo recap. Week one was genre (THIRST is post-apocalyptic YA). Week two was premise. Here's mine:
A waterborne disease has sprung up in every corner of the globe, decimating the human race. Young survivors Eli McShane and his friends journey toward Colorado and the rumored location of a safe water source.
Week three was Storyworld. And today we're going to talk about how you can use maps and floorplans to help you discover/learn more about your setting. Just like last week, if you're writing contemporary or historical, don't ignore this topic! There is good stuff to learn this week that can help you.
Keep in mind!You only need to draw or research things that are important to your story. I didn't sketch or print floorplans for every character's house. Only for those that had key scenes. And if you don't need this kind of help, don't bother. I'm a visual person. If I can see a floorplan or use the house of someone I know as an example in my head, it makes it so much easier for me to describe the setting when it comes time to. But you might be different. So you need to learn what helps you and do that.
Examples of what you can doIt's no secret I am WAY into this stuff. So I'm always creating extras for my stories. If you're a little foggy on what types of maps or floorplans could help you, here are some things I've done. Some I cleaned up well and put in my books. Some I used only for my own reference. And there are others that are so messy I would never show them to you, but they helped me immensely. If I ever traced someone else's artwork to use for inspiration, that always remained for me alone because to print such things in a novel with my name on it would be an infringement of copyright. (The sample castle sketch of Sitna Manor below I partly traced from old drawings of castles, then added in my own details.) But that doesn't mean I can't use such drawings as inspiration as I describe the places in my books. Also, Google is your friend. You can spend hours Googling all types of maps and floorplans to get inspiration. Here is a link to many of the maps and floorplans I've created, though a good sampling is pasted below.
Sample fantasy land map
This one is from By Darkness Hid.
Sample facility floor plan
This one is from Replication.
Sample apartment floorplan
This one is from The New Recruit.
Sample house floor plan
This I used for The New Recruit and all the Mission League books, though I never printed it in a book. This is Spencer's house where he lives with his grandma. I made this one to help me describe his home.
Sample castle sketch
This is Sitna Manor from By Darkness Hid. I wanted to draw this one because medieval fantasy was totally new to me and I wanted to see the whole place Achan lived and worked. It really helped me when I was trying to describe Achan moving around inside and where everything was. And it also helped me with the scene when Achan is pushed into the river and eventually comes in through the moat.
Sample castle floor plan
This I drew in Photoshop for To Darkness Fled and From Darkness Won. This is Granton Castle, where Vrell grew up. This helped me a little when describing people moving through the walls and meeting in the secret room, but truly---this was utter procrastination. It took me a really long time (I made three of the five levels). A pencil sketch would have been all the help I needed on this one, but it was lots of fun to make. *wink*
Sample map for plan of attack
This I put in the book To Darkness Fled. This is the map of the Ice Island prison that Sir Gavin and company are looking at before they go in to rescue an army to help Achan. There's not much to it, but since I felt the description of the prison might be confusing, I wanted to draw it to help readers picture it correctly in their minds during that rescue scene.
Sample solar system map
This is the map of the solar system my son and I created for the RoboTales series. If you're wanting to create interesting space maps, I recommend you Google some to see what others have done.
Archived posts for creating a fantasy or science fiction map:If you want to draw your own map, I wrote a few posts on the subject. When I'm writing fantasy, I must have a map, whether or not I put it in my book. Having a map helps me see the world and add to it. If you've never done this before, I think you will find these posts really helpful.
Map-Making 101: Drawing The Map
Map-Making 201: Naming Things on Your Map
The Evolution of a Fantasy Map
Great site for house floorplans:If you want to print out a floor plan for a house, this is a fabulous website. You can choose your house type, number of floors, bedrooms, and bathrooms, and other features. Check it out: http://www.floorplans.com/
Maps And Floorplans For THIRSTAt this time, THIRST doesn't have a map. The story takes place in Arizona (Phoenix and Flagstaff) and Crested Butte, Colorado. I do have the map of The Safe Lands, which will exist in Crested Butte, Colorado some eighty years into the future. And I'm thinking I might need to draw a map or two when my characters reach Crested Butte. But I will do that later, if I need to. For now, I'll show you what I've done, map and floorplan-wise, for THIRST.
Since my guys are headed home to Phoenix, Arizona, I needed to know where they lived. I spent a lot of time researching this. I looked at rich/middle class/poor areas of the city, school districts, and churches to find a place where my characters could live and might realistically attend the same church, even if they lived in different neighborhoods and went to different schools. I went onto real estate websites, looking for houses for sale, comparing size and location, until I found the right house for each character.
Here is the map I printed off Google Maps for my own reference. I know the physical address for each house/apartment, though when I looked for pictures of houses, I picked a random one for Zaq's house and pretended it was the one right next door to Logan's, when in reality, it is not. (Sorry about the blurriness. I don't have a scanner at present.)
Pictures of Houses (Inside and Out)
Here are pictures I found of the houses, either from real estate sites or from Google Street View. The first house, the brown one, is Eli's house. The second is Jaylee's apartment complex, and the third and fourth houses are Logan's and Zaq's. I found this process helpful since I'd only been to Phoenix one time ages ago and couldn't remember how things looked. This way I was able to describe houses, yards, and the inside of Riggs's mansion house.
Since there is a longer scene inside Riggs's house, and I haven't been in a house like that, I didn't know how to describe it. Finding this house that was for sale within the area I wanted helped me immensely. Fancy place, eh? I wouldn't mind that walk-in closet or that pool.
1. Create a list of important places and buildings in your story. Here are some examples of how lists might look for different genres:
-epic fantasy: world map, city map, castle floorplan
-contemporary high school romance: town map, school floorplan, pictures of boy and girl's houses, floorplan of girl's house
-historical: map of town, map of country area, map of grounds of the house that shows important locations (roads, lake, greenhouse, hunting grounds, creek), floorplan of manor house with assignments for each room (character bedrooms, servant rooms, drawing room, kitchen, etc)
2. Make a plan of attack for each. Maybe you want to Google places and print them out. Maybe you want to check out www.floorplans.com. Maybe you want to draw it yourself. Or maybe you need to do a little of all three. Having a plan will help you stay organized.
Post your plans in the comments. If you've drawn a map or floorplan and want to share it, feel free to post a link. And if you're stuck, ask for help!