And NaNoWrimo is almost here – is anyone else feeling anxious? So it’s time for my Writing Diaries #3. This might be the last one that mentions any preparation & research, as I want to focus on writing only as soon as November starts. Also, I am going to talk about my map today, so just keep reading, yea’?

Reading Material

I admit that I haven’t been reading writing advice that much lately, even if there are a few books in my shelf that I definitely want to go through. In any case, this won’t be a reason or excuse to STOP writing. I can still go through these books during the revising / editing stage, which will happen after November.

So this is what I have read since then:

Creating Character: Bringing Your Story to Life (Red Sneaker Writers Books) (Volume 2) Write Great Fiction - Description & Setting: Techniques and Exercises for Crafting a Believable World of People, Places and Events Writer's Guide to Character Emotion: Best Method to Craft Realistic Character Expression and Emotion: Fiction Writing Tools

Out of all these, I highly recommend “Creating Character: Bringing Your Story to Life (Red Sneaker Writers Book Series 2)”, and the only thing I regret is not having started this series earlier. This book on its own provided me with lots of targetted advice which would make unnecessary to read many other books I’ve had. “Description & Setting” has its interesting points – As I struggle with description, I feel the need to read as much as I can about the subject. And finally, “The Writer’s Guide to Character Emotion” was surprisingly useful and straight to the point – Sherry gives effective examples on how to switch from shallow POV to deeper POV by avoiding very common mistakes. Now, remember this is only useful if you are intending on using the third person limited – and be sure to research on POV & narrators first.

The Tools

As I have mentioned on my last Writing Diaries, I will be using Scrivener for planning the whole structure, and also incorporating chapters and scenes – basically compiling the whole thing. For actual writing, I prefer my iA Writer Pro – which has a minimalist interface. I then copy-paste the content into Scrivener’s appropriate scene / chapter. I have also found a very cool new tool, and guess what, it’s free! The name of the tool is First Draft. Probably they do have functionalities which you have to pay for, but I am not aware of that yet. The cool thing about First Draft is that it really focus on the purpose of a “First Draft” – so they have incorporated a few motivational functionalities to make you keep writing without editing anything.

The Map

Oh, the map! I did promise I was going to talk about it! I am aware not everyone will be writing Fantasy, but I am curious if those who will write this genre have created or at least sketched a map. I do think it makes things so much easier – even if it’s just there for you to imagine your setting and plot. This means that you do not necessarily need to share it, or publish it, or even polish it.

So because I am not the best at geography, geology or any of that, and considering that my world is a terraformed world, it was a challenge to come up with a map that would make sense.

But guess what? Tools! When I started my research, I’ve found this donation-funded free game (for Windows, OSX, and Linux), called Dwarf Fortress. But what could this game with such simple graphics do? Simple, Dwarf Fortress creates worlds using a pseudo-random generator, “using a very complex and powerful engine to calculate erosion, rain shadows, drainage, animal simulations, etc.” Awesome, isn’t it? You can keep generating random worlds until you’re satisfied. Here’s the one I’ve ended up with:


You can also export the biome map (such as the one below), and others that give you information about the climate, terrain, etc.


Next step.

Because my drawing skills are not AMAZING (I am a graphic designer yes, but not an illustrator, so I am not great in that area); I have decided to use a Photoshop plugin that uses the maps from DF to convert your map into something ‘understandable’. I used that plugin to start a rough draft, and took notes of the names of places and important cities:


Ah, it is starting to look like something, isn’t it?

Final step involves me being lazy and actually asking a digital artist (someone who can actually draw something!) to polish my map and make it look pretty and presentable. So here’s my FINAL MAP, ladies & gentlemen, never revealed before:


I hope you like it!

How about you, did you do a map for your novel? What was your method / proccess?  Did you keep it as a reference or did you go ahead and polish it?

Happy writing, and see you next time!

7 Responses

  1. cappucinno

    Oh I love the map. I don’t write fantasy but my daughter does I’m so showing her this blog post. Good luck with #NaNoWriMo

    • Profile photo of Nya

      Thank you so much, I hope your daughter finds my posts useful and best of luck for both of you in your projects.

  2. mudandstars

    Your map is amazing!! I’m not writing fantasy, but I am going to be creating a map to work out where everything is in the town I’m setting my novel in, so that I can visualise it better when my characters are moving around. I think I might get that first book you mentioned on character, it sounds really useful – thanks for the tip 🙂

    • Profile photo of Nya

      Thank you, I am so happy you like it! Maps do stimulate creativity, and I’m sure you will have as much fun with it as I did. Best of luck 🙂


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