Maps are a helpful way to orient oneself in a physical place. We use them in all sorts of ways: when driving from one place to another, when finding a new-to-us store or restaurant, even wandering around a mall or airport. Now, maps are electronic – GPS, or Global Positioning Systems, are as ubiquitous as cell phones. But how many of us have been steered wrong by their GPS and ended up in another place entirely (Google maps, I’m looking at you, kthnxbi). For that reason, I’m still old-school and like my paper sheet-maps and guidebooks. They don’t send me into Muskegon Heights and the police station/mental asylum parking lot.
When worldbuilding, I’ve found maps to be invaluable – not least because I have a tendency to put stuff where I need it in story, not necessarily where it actually is. Aside from driving my coauthor and our editors up a tree, it’s useful to know where said tree is – last time, it was on the front of the property, now it’s in the back yard? Well, yeah, maybe it’s a walking tree like those the ents manage in LOTR? No? Oh, fine, I’ll draw a map.
And that’s how the map of Persis, shown above, was born. We needed to know, for example, how long it takes to get from Reghdad to Kotek City. Is it a straight shot? What kind of conveyance can one use to get there? What’s the terrain like? What are the hazards of the journey? And, most importantly, when editing Emerald Keep, we realized that the two Seekers we had written into the scene, who were from Cyrus and Darius respectively, could not have traveled to Reghdad “just like that,” and certainly not during the Daymonth. Uhps.
See? Maps are important. Take that, GPS.