Mapping it out • Lynne Garner

I recently read a book written by Diana Kimpton (Plots and Plotting - How to create stories that work - read my review here). In it she suggests when working on a story it may be helpful to draw a map. This idea obviously resinated and without realising the idea had planted itself somewhere in my subconscious.  Because when I was working on a new story for my latest work in progress (Fox of Moon Meadow Farm) a nagging voice started telling me I needed a map. 

You see I was working on a chase scene which wasn't going to plan. I eventually stopped and listened to that nagging voice. So, I grabbed a piece of A3 paper and started to sketch a map of Moon Meadow Farm. Once I'd sketched in a few important landmarks, the farm house, the courtyard, the lane, the river and the orchard I realised I couldn't remember all of the places I'd mentioned in the first book (Hedgehog of Moon Meadow Farm). So, I started to read the book and as I did I realised I'd put some of the landmarks in the wrong place. I also realised I had to take into account the cover for Hedgehog of Moon Meadow Farm. This meant I needed to remove a wall I'd put in on the first map. So out came a second piece of A3 and I started to redraw the map. After a few hours I'd created a map I could use to help me work on my current work in progress and the next books in the series.

Moon Meadow Farm Map 

It also dawned on me that the stories I'd already written featuring Fox needed to be revisited to ensure the action matched the map. Thankfully I didn't find too many errors that needed correcting. Once I'd completed checking these stories I felt able to write the chase scene, which had prompted the drawing of the map in the first place. I'm now working on the last two stories and whilst writing them I'm consulting my map and have added to it. I'm sure when I work on the next title in the Moon Meadow Farm series this map will be consulted and added to. So it will continue to grow as the series does.   

The drawing of the map has had another couple of Benefits. Firstly, whilst talking to the very talented illustrator, Debbie Knight who designs my front covers we agreed it'd be useful for her to have a copy. Secondly we've agreed that at some point she'll turn my scribble of a map into a 'proper' illustration and it'll be included in the books.

To round off. If you've not read Diana's book perhaps purchase it, it may support you as much as it has me. I also suggest when you get the chance give drawing a map a go. You might find it helps you as much as it has me.

Lynne Garner
To keep up-to-date with my new titles click here.

Blatant plug time
Check out my various collections of short stories (ebooks 99p).

Hedgehog of Moon Meadow Farm

Ten Tales of Brer Rabbit

Ten Tales of Coyote 

Anansi The Trickster Spider


Griselda Heppel said…
Drawing a map is such a good idea. However much you think you know your story’s environment, there will be things you get wrong unless you think it out properly and, yes, visually. I got myself in a huge tangle with The Tragickall History of Henry Fowst which takes place in parallel time zones, 1586 and present day, in the same much rebuilt and remodelled house. The only way to sort it was to draw two different house plans, one for 1586 and one for the present building (now a school), trying to make sure that both incarnations of the house would make sense within its period. If you’re setting a series in one particular place, as you are, it’s even more important - keen readers will spot at one a wall/road/gate/outbuilding in the wrong place! Super advice, thank you.
Bill Kirton said…
My own experience is not quite the same, Lynne, but a map was central to it. When a non-writer friend once asked 'Why don't you write a book about a figurehead carver?' my reaction was 'Yes, why not?' I'd never written a historical novel before but I liked wood carving and sailing ships, so I started 'The Figurehead'. It was set in Aberdeen and, in order to make sure I avoided any basic anachronisms, I went to the library and asked for maps of the city in the 19th century. The one they copied for me was an Ordnance Survey of the city's street plan of 1841, so that was when my carver was operating, just 2 years after the famous 'clipper bow' was invented here. Apart from making me get the geography, street names, city limits, etc. right, it provoked an interest in the city's actual development quite unrelated to my writing and the discovery of buildings and structures still; here, some with names and functions derived from their original (or, at least, 19th century) purpose.
Susan Price said…
Every book should have a map!
Umberto Tosi said…
I'm with you and Ms. Klimpton about maps. I've loved maps and globes since I was a boy. I relied on marvelous illustrated - surprisingly artful and accurate = 16th century European city maps (drawn by artists of the times) in writing about Ophelia's picaresque adventures on the run from Elsinore in Ophelia Rising and included images of a few in my novel. Excellent post!
Umberto Tosi said…
Oops. Make that "Kimpton" please.
Lynne Garner said…
Griselda - What a great idea. I've been 'playing' with a new story that involves different time periods. So, maps of the same area at different periods may help.

Bill - Thanks for sharing. Your mention of a figure head carver reminded me of my uncle Albert. He worked on the Cutty Sark - keeping up with repairs. He'd start at one end mending, carving and bodging (his words) and work his way along the length. When he got to the other end he'd start all over again.

Susan - Yep I'm with you. If there's a map I always have a read and if the characters have travelled any great distance will consult the map.

Umberto - Thanks. It's nice to read I've joined good company.

Popular posts

A Few Discreet Words About Caesar's Penis--Reb MacRath

The Year of Just Being There: Dipika Mukherjee looks back at 2016

A Week of Three Libraries -- Julia Jones

Close Reading | Reading Like a Writer by Francine Prose | Karen Kao

Rules is Rules, discovers Griselda Heppel, Even When They're Not.