World-building: Map of the Northern Lands of Warding -
Map of the Northern Lands of Warding

World-building: Map of the Northern Lands of Warding

Map of the Northern Lands of Warding

This is the first entry in the World-building journal and it’s all about maps, specifically the one pictured above, which is of Northern Warding.

Ever since I read The Hobbit and translated the dwarvish runes on the edge of it I have loved maps. To me, finding one at the front of a book is like finding buried treasure. I look at them constantly while I’m reading a book if it has one.

Since then, I’ve found that the only thing more fun than pouring over a rich, finely detailed map, is creating one.

But before we talk about the specifics of the Warding map, let’s take a step back.

Maps provide a framework

J.R.R. Tolkien once said, “I wisely started with a map and made my story fit.” My stories don’t quite begin like that (I’m not sure his entirely did either). Usually they begin with an idea. Then the main character or characters come in, and then the plot. But a map usually comes in pretty early on. For me, the map is when the world-building really begins in earnest.

For my scifi series, The Chronotrace Sequence, I didn’t really use a map (though I had some rough sketches) since there were only about five or six locations and the story was less about an outward journey than an inward one.

The Last Motley was my first real map and I was amazed how much it helped to have while I was writing the outline. Since that story covers a very long journey, it helped me to know what the setting would be for each scene, how much time would pass between scenes, the kinds of obstacles the characters would face, and so much more.

The map is like a framework upon which I can hang all the scenes of my book.

From mind to paper and beyond

mystery mapFor the Swordspeaker Saga I had this really ambitious idea that would take multiple books to cover (8 by the end, with a prequel and a legendarium added in for 10 in total). So I knew I would need a big map.

The map pictured above is roughly about half of the full map I drew. I didn’t want to spoil the later books so that’s why I chose to just present only the northern lands here.

I always draw my maps on paper first and this one actually took two sheets of letter-sized paper scotch-taped together to create.

I scanned in the drawing and then began to work on building it out in Photoshop. I used roughly the same process I used for The Last Motley map, except that for Warding I hand shaded the trees and hand drew the mountains with a pen and tablet.

What happened to Kiln?

If you’ve followed this website for a while you might notice that the world of this story was originally called Kiln. So why the change to Warding?

Well, the world is actually still called Kiln, but the lands in which the story take place are called The Four Wards, The Wards, or Warding. So it seemed more accurate to just refer to the story world as Warding rather than Kiln. Warding is to Kiln what Middle-earth is to Arda, if that helps it make more sense.

Not only did the name of the world change from earlier maps, so did some of the towns. Bonus points if you can spot which ones!

The map is like a framework upon which I can hang all the scenes of my book.

In this most recent version, I also added a new town called Nickling and a road which led to it. This town arose out of the need to have a battle in that location in the prequel. As I mentioned, usually as I write, the map dictates events in the story. But as I wrote the prequel, the map and the story actually influenced each other and I made changes to the map based on what I thought would make the story better.

Three northern realms

While Warding is also referred to as the Four Wards, only two still exist. The other two were lost so long ago no one remembers what happened to them. Of the two which remain, Inris and Veris (those are the shortened names, the actual names are Inrisward and Verisward), only Inris is shown here.

Inris occupies the center of the map. The other two lands shown are Noath and Haukmarn.

I’ll talk about each of these three lands over the next few journal entries, but I’ll stop here for now.

This post is part of February is Fantasy Month, an online celebration of the fantasy genre by Jenelle Leane Schmidt. Be sure to visit her site for other great posts by authors and bloggers across the internet.

I hope you enjoyed your first few steps in this world. If you have any questions or suggestions on specifics you’d like me to cover, please leave them in the comments below.

Until next time, happy trekking!

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