Fantasy Cartography

5 Original Plans I Cut from The Bow of Hart Saga

Last week, I shared what 5 things I added to The Bow of Hart Saga over the time I was writing the series. This week, I’m sharing what I removed from the series. This one is a bit tougher since I had to think through so many years development.

  1. First on the list is a major sub-plot. Once I really re-booted my work on the The Bow of Destiny and the series, I added a major sub-plot where events unfolded in a totally different part of Denaria with different characters. It was pretty good writing but very unnecessary as pointed out by my editor. So, I removed the sub-plot but held onto it for later publication as a single book or a novella series. Hopefully, I can begin sharing some of that in the coming months as the early portions of this could easily be developed into the first two books of a shorter series.
  2. Next, I dropped additional books. When I first planned the series many years ago, I wanted to write between seven and nine books. I trimmed that notion to five books and then to three. I think three books were enough to cover what was needed (reference to the Withlings intended).

  3. The meaning of the Bow of Hart was next to be changed. At first, I intended to write it much differently (no spoiler here) but the more work I put into the current version, the more I knew it had to be twisted. That meant dropping my original intentions and I think that worked out much better. For those who haven’t read it, you need to and you’ll understand.

  4. Along with the shift away from more books, the plans I had for a major war in the lands of Shildra and Grendon shifted north which made sense. Fewer books meant less time to move into other lands so I kept the series arc as simple as possible – anything else was pushing too far. I did not get to show events in other places like Shildra, Grendon, Hart, Rok and several others. Perhaps I can write another series about those lands (and, no, the previously mentioned content is not about these lands).

5. Lastly, I dropped a very convoluted beginning that spent far too much time with Athson being alone and making long trips to and from Auguron City. That left him involved with no one so there was less dialogue. Also, it was just boring so I settled on pushing the reader directly into Athson’s confusing reality and a single, straight-forward journey to the city with Gweld while moving the ranger station further away and adding a few stops along the way for better context and plot development.

So those are a few details that were cut, and generously so. I think it made the overall series better, more concise. As a bonus, I can also share that I split the initial first book since it would have been far too long, shifted the title to the second book and developed The Bow of Destiny title. That took some doing but it worked. Next week, I’ll share more details I added, especially in The Bow of Destiny that made the book better in my opinion.

Thanks for reading today. Please leave your questions and thoughts in the comments sections and I’ll reply as soon as I can! Find out more about The Bow of Hart Saga on the series page.

Fantasy Mapping Re-Visited

folded mapLast month, I wrote about converting my decades old, hand-drawn fantasy map to digital version. Today, I’m sharing the follow-up on the process and how it turned out. For those who may have a similar situation, I’ll include some technical details that may make this process less painful.

I originally had a map that was hand-drawn but had water spots which discolored the paper enough to render it useless for scanning which would have been an easy resolution. So I had to resort to tracing the map by hand using tracing paper purchased at a local craft/art supply store. This process was easy to complete if a little time consuming.

I did have to go over the pencil tracing with a pen and finding the right type to use for tracing paper can be tricky. I found the Paper-Mate Profile worked best. Be careful of smudges though mine seemed to add a bit of character to the map – after all, what’s an old, hand-drawn map without smudges?

East Coast MapNext, since the paper is an odd size I needed to use a special scanner. That meant a trip to Fed-Ex/Kinko’s so I found on in the area. Since I was scanning only to electronic version I needed my own thumb-drive which I usually carry with me everywhere – so make sure to take one if you are doing something like this. Also, scanning paper can be tricky feeding through the particular scanner used – and no, there wasn’t a flat-bed that would accommodate the paper size. However, in this case the scanner had been recently serviced with new rollers so the tracing paper fed without a hitch. The cost was minimal so I easily had a digital version of the map. However I could only get a .tiff of the file instead of .jpg or .png (I didn’t want a .pdf until I had the final version).

At this point, I had a file of the map. I intentionally left the new version without place & geographic names so I could add them via my computer. For this I used a copy of Microsoft Publisher. I added the file as a picture to a blank, custom size and then added text labels for every name on the map. In adding these, I had to adjust size and font to get the necessary result. Also, with publisher it worked best to scroll using the mouse or the scroll-bars in the application since moving the picture threw of the text box alignments. But this same caveat with text boxes proved useful later. Additionally, some places needed to be pointed out in detail so I used the shapes function to select an arrow to indicate specific location details.

E_Auguron and N_ Troll HeathsOnce I finished labeling the map, I could zoom in closer to make screen-shots of specific areas so they would be large enough to see. If I need to enlarge them I’ll use Gimp for the adjustment. However, when zooming I found that larger labels might be partially cut-off the view. I simply moved the text box and re-sized it to fit the area I needed.

Now I have custom maps of various locations that I can use in The Bow of Destiny and An Arrow Against the Wind as well as free, related short-fiction such as What Is Needed . These maps will be added to the final copy for formatting. I’ve included a few screen-shots as final results.

Book Cover Green Top & Bottom Cover - CopyPlease share your thoughts and ideas in the comments section.

To find out more about The Bow of Destiny, click over to one of these online retailers:

Amazon      BarnesandNoble      Smashwords

ibooksdownload      Kobo

About the Author

P. H. SolomonP. H. Solomon lives in the greater Birmingham, AL area where he strongly dislikes yard work and sanding the deck rail. However, he performs these duties to maintain a nice home for his loved ones as well as the family’s German Shepherds. In his spare time, P. H. rides herd as a Computer Whisperer on large computers called servers (harmonica not required). Additionally, he enjoys reading, running, most sports and fantasy football. Having a degree in Anthropology, he also has a wide array of more “serious” interests in addition to working regularly to hone his writing. The Bow of Destiny is his first novel-length title with more soon to come.


Privacy Policy

This blog does not share personal information – including email addresses – with third parties nor do I store any information about your visit to this blog other than to analyze and optimize your content and reading experience through the use of cookies (which is a WordPress.com function and not mine).

You can turn off the use of cookies at any time by changing your specific browser settings.

I am not responsible for republished content from this blog on other blogs or websites without our permission.

This privacy policy is subject to change without notice and was last updated on July 2nd, 2015. If you have any questions feel free to contact me directly here: ph at phsolomon.com (replace the “at” with @, it’s written that way to avoid spammers).

 

The Problems with Last Century Fantasy Cartography

My editor has asked me one question several times, “Do you have a map?” It’s a valid question since a map is a key element to every epic fantasy that really adds depth to a book in subtle ways. A map serves as a guide to both the plot of a book and the reader. The map in LOTR was what made the book incredibly interesting since you could follow the story visually. I’ve seen some well executed maps in books in recent years. Once such is from Russell Kirkpatrick’s books and the map is extremely detailed – but then he’s a cartographer by trade.

Enter your email address to follow this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

I do have a map. Here’s how my humble process went to create it: one day many years ago I sat down and hand drew my map with a variety of details and notions of stories and histories for my fantasy world. It was highly creative to explore this fantasy world as I drew all the rivers, mountains, forests, cities and countries. I could imagine what people lived where and how the geography shaped their daily lives.

That was long ago and my story has morphed. It was so long ago that the map would now be considered derivative of several early works of fantasy – you know what I mean. There’s just been a lot of fantasy water under the bridge (more on that at a later date). But even worse than the dated map is the age of the paper that was discolored by a water-spot. So not only is my map in need of updating, it also needs to be completely re-done. But don’t worry, just as I’ve updated my epic fantasy to current standards I’m also updating the map.

As I wind down editing The Bow of Destiny, I’ve turned to all the other details so the map has become a more immediate concern. I face several challenges with an old, damaged map in a digital age. One is getting a new copy without water-spots. The other is transferring the entire map into digital format for an e-book – something for which I never planned. Since it’s unique, my map is like a one-of-a-kind treasure map from any number of pirate or treasure-hunter stories and movies so getting a digital version is even more important.

TypingI’ve taken the challenges one at a time. I purchased tracing paper from an art supply so I could trace the map. Next, I’ll get it copied – hopefully on a larger sheet of paper so I can have place names written on the map in stylized script. The second challenge should be easy – have the map scanned to file which I should then be able to use for the e-book. I also plan to blow-up sections of the map where The Bow of Destiny and supporting stories are set so readers can see it better (maps in e-readers do leave something to be desired due to size so I’m trying to make mine more visible). I can also use sections in free short stories I plan to release later this summer which makes my fantasy cartography more important.

I imagine that at some point I’ll likely do something to improve the map further. Also, when making maps for future books in new fantasy worlds I’d prefer to do so beginning with a digital copy so it’s cleaner from the beginning. But for now, this beginner is taking last century map-making and transferring it into current century technology.

So that’s a bit of information for readers about creating a fantasy book – especially one in the making as long as mine. I’m sure a lot of readers don’t think about this detail too much since it’s so ubiquitous but it is very important to a fantasy writer like me. It’s all part of the creative process and can never be discounted.

Please share your thoughts and ideas in the comments section.

To find out more about The Bow of Destiny, click over to one of these online retailers:

the-bow-of-destiny-by-p-h-solomon1

 

Amazon      BarnesandNoble      Smashwords

ibooksdownload      Kobo

P. H. SolomonAbout the Author

P. H. Solomon lives in the greater Birmingham, AL area where he strongly dislikes yard work and sanding the deck rail. However, he performs these duties to maintain a nice home for his loved ones as well as the family’s German Shepherds. In his spare time, P. H. rides herd as a Computer Whisperer on large computers called servers (harmonica not required). Additionally, he enjoys reading, running, most sports and fantasy football. Having a degree in Anthropology, he also has a wide array of more “serious” interests in addition to working regularly to hone his writing. The Bow of Destiny is his first novel-length title with more soon to come.