Maps have always been a part of my life. My father loved them. He used them everywhere we went – and he made them. One of the reasons I was able to spend idyllic summers in Maine was that he was mapping the geologic formations of the state. One summer he even hired me (for reasons I don’t understand) to help him with the pain-staking pre-digital process of coloring his maps.
One of my favorite anecdotes regarding my youngest boy-child – the one who is most like my father – is how when he was about two or three he loved to look at the maps we had in the car. I’d be driving along listening to him make thoughtful toddler murmurings and laugh and laugh – over a map. Very curious, indeed!
When I am teaching writing, I often have my students make a map. I find it’s helpful to do this in order to make one’s setting real and concrete. As you make choices as to where important locations fit within the space of the map, questions and concerns come to mind. It’s easier to imagine characters inhabiting the place of it.
I use some of author Holly Lisle’s ideas regarding map-making. Follow her instructions for a do-it-yourself workshop.
And Julie Larios wrote a lovely musing on literary maps for the Horn Book.
Make it real.
WRITING ON THE SIDEWALK