Tuesday, May 10, 2016

Tip Tuesday: Maps and Calendars

Map of Middle Earth
I write science fiction novels that cover a lot of time and terrain. To help me keep track of all the movement I use actual maps and calendars.When I do world building and future history Maps and Calendars are a critical tool.


Scrivener makes it easy to keep maps handy. Even if you do not publish the maps it really helps keep me straight on several fronts:
  • Climate. The Solstice 31 Saga takes place on the Earth like planet called Baytirus. I based the weather on upstate NY. I even created an annotated map that had all the major cities, rivers, lakes, even the gorge was based on the St. Lawrence river.
  • Distances. People can only walk so far in a day. What is the range of a horse? How fast can shuttle fly? 
  • Landscapes. Describing a setting makes a story rich and draws the audience in farther. In my head I know the climate, the kind of trees that make up the forests, the mountain heights and even the geological make up of the ground. 
  • Cities. What makes a city grow. Is it a port city? Is it on a river? Is it in the mountains? Maps inform the descriptions.
  • Street Maps. Actual street layouts of cities make action easier as it moves through them. I even decide on the maps the kind of architecture in specific areas.
  • Floor plans. Lastly, I even make floor plans of building and interiors of space ship and space stations. It all inspires me and keeps the blocking in my story consistent.


Lord of the Rings Calendar
Like maps, calendars keep the action organized. I use actual calendars to make a timeline of a story. The Solstice 31 Saga takes place over a period of about 150 years. I had to use calendars from the beginning because the series of events that all came together on December 22, 2631 all needed tracking. Each character had a timeline:
  • Different plot threads of a story that all happen during the same days and time.
  • Following various events in a story that are critical to specific characters.
  • The duration it takes to travel various distances.
  • If your story cover a lot of time, it keep the aging of the characters straight as well. If ten years have gone by that cute pine year old girl has changed in many ways!
  • Calendars turn into clocks wen seconds count.
  • During the outlining phase, I annotate both dates and locations in the margins.
  • Calendars keep flash-backs organized.
You don't need any fancy tools for either maps or calendars. I use Outlook for the calendars and annotated JPGs for maps. It does not take much time at all to create these during your planning phase.

--These tools will help you finish things.

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