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December 30: mapping worlds and fandoms, cont'd (for [livejournal.com profile] joyeuce01) [Tumblr crosspost]

These last maps are for worlds that have no accompanying story of any sort... or at least, not yet. Let's jump right in!


The above map is of a continent I call Gramarye. The basic premise behind this world is that long ago -- by which I mean somewhere between five centuries and a millennium -- there was a great war in which the two strongest magicians then alive fought on opposite sides. (The proximate cause was a king trying to unite the continent; one magician thought this was a way to create peace, particularly once the king's heir would eventually inherit, while the other thought peace imposed by force was impossible and also that the king in question was a tyrant and the heir had no reason to be any better.) The fighting ground on for years. Finally the conqueror king and his magician were defeated, but not before the majority of the continent was devastated, the land and seas poisoned for generations.

The king's magician had tried to contain the damage by twisting the entire continent and its coastal waters out of phase with the surrounding world. The other magician tried to raise new land from the ocean floor to give refugees a new home. Unfortunately their spells interacted badly, to put it mildly, and any further details would be massive plot spoilers if I ever get around to writing the story.

In the present day, a mysterious wanderer comes to the eastern edge of the Old Country (which is beset by mutated beasts) and takes a boy and a girl on a quest through the Waste. Meanwhile a traveling storyteller arrives in a small village in the New Country (which is beset by magical echoes of the great war) and strikes up a friendship with a local woman who works in a magician's household. These stories are related, and ultimately end with the breaking of the spell that has kept Gramarye locked away since the war, prevented its wounds from healing, and largely drained magic from the rest of the world.

The world-building I've done for Gramarye is mostly linguistic and genealogical, oddly enough. You can tell from the notes and corrections thereof above that I originally started with a gimmick idea of using Anglicized versions of Biblical names for people in the Old Country and Anglicized versions of Celtic names for people in the New Country, but later decided that was stupid. As for the plot, I am still quite vague on vast swathes of events and motives, and have never written even a tiny exploratory noodling snippet of actual narrative. But I'd like to get back to this world someday.


Moving on! I have mentioned, at various points in these map posts, that I occasionally draw stuff for Vicky (my sister). This can be as simple as a sketch on a piece of scrap paper when she wants a layout for three countries with a particular set of borders and relative isolation levels (which I am not going to show you because I gave her the paper in question years ago), or as complicated as the following two images:

Vicky's world preliminary sketch

As you can see, Vicky gave me a few basic parameters -- things that were involved in a story idea she had -- and asked me to make a map to support them. I got a little carried away and drew her nearly a third of a continent.

Vicky's world

(Note: the city in the lower right corner that got cut off by my scanner -- which has been really weird and temperamental since I got my new computer this spring -- is named Zeharra. Also, the city of Nemora and its surrounding lands have been traded back and forth between Alaria and Espiola for centuries. I'm not sure which country currently rules that region.)

This world has no name, so far as I know, and Vicky never did anything about the story. In fact, I'd forgotten about it myself until I went looking through my file folders for maps. I don't know much about the countries in this world, though I suspect the latitudes on this map are roughly comparable to Europe and northern Africa.

I took the hard copy down to D.C. last week and gave the map to Vicky as a little additional Christmas gift. I have no idea what she'll do with it, but it was always meant for her and now it's in her hands. :-)


December Talking Meme: All Days
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December 27: mapping worlds and fandoms, cont'd (for [livejournal.com profile] joyeuce01) [Tumblr crosspost]

This is the world of The Sum of Things, my unfinished NaNoWriMo attempt from 2004. A bunch of the world-building is older than that, though. I have printed files from my family's first computer, which I believe we replaced when I was sixteen, so I probably started noodling around with this world when I was thirteen-ish. (You may have noticed that I was really into creating worlds at thirteen: Kerr, Firsthome, and Kanos all date back to that period, as does Intarre, a world I have never gotten around to physically mapping.)

The basic idea is that Kanos is a rather precarious multi-ethnic empire that began as a military alliance against periodic invasions from across the western mountains, swallowed a bunch of surrounding regions via marriage and/or conquest, and then spent a century or two slowly falling apart from internal tensions. The component regions are Alland and Auvern (the heart of the original alliance), Orifan, Mandaking, Ayden, and Damiland. Auvern, Orifan, and Damiland are all ethnically distinct regions; Alland, Mandaking, and Ayden are separated only (ha! "only," she says...) by cultural differences, and the beginnings of linguistic splits in a previous common language, which itself was the legacy of a previous empire.

The most relevant external enemies are Dorin Rhae, Halo, and the undrawn western regions beyond the mountains and highlands. Dorin Rhae is larger than it looks on the map. Tobal, Caermarin, and Nezzany don't extend much past the physical space their names take up; all the rest of that area is actually Dorin Rhae. The Dorinians are ethnically closely related to the people of Orifan, and there is both a lot of cross-border tension because of old internal hatreds, and a lot of cross-border cooperation, particularly with Orifani separatist movements. Halo is a sort of feudal theocracy, and has been fighting a slow-motion holy war against the rest of the Eastern Lands for centuries. It's as much about land as about faith, really, but Kanos is both the closest country and the one physically in possession of former Haloro territory, so it takes the brunt of the attacks. And the semi-nomadic people of the western high plains often get pushed eastward either by drought or by the movement and expansion of other peoples and nations to their own west, which puts a constant threat on Kanos's western border.

I didn't draw a map until late 2005, a year after I'd started serious story writing, and many, many years after I'd first started imagining the world out of the ether. But I do use it as a reference, and here it is. (The scribbly lines are mountains.)

Kanos and the Eastern Lands

This is a vast region! Kididama (which is a region rather than a country, and encompasses everything north of Kanos, Sheneska, and Halo) stretches past the arctic circle, while Ghisa and Skyora are both in the tropics. (The actual arctic circle is off the top edge of this particular map.) The Eastern Lands are home to three major religions (and dozens of minor ones), numerous ethnicities, and hundreds of languages. They are likewise divided by climate and internal geography. The various lands do share a few cultural touchstones, however, which are mostly related to the nature of magic and souls in this world, and to a couple international organizations that deliberately foster certain ideals that aid their own survival.

I want to get back to this world as well. I was never sure exactly where Talin and Ranna's story was going, and I'd like to find out...


December Talking Meme: All Days
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December 24: mapping worlds and fandoms, cont'd (for [livejournal.com profile] joyeuce01) [Tumblr crosspost]

When I was a kid, I used to walk our family dog in the rain sometimes and look at the little runoff streams that formed along the sides of the streets, racing along until they encountered a storm drain or, in one case, poured through a little concrete channel under a hedge and vanished into the scrubland that separated my neighborhood from the nearby golf course. I gave a bunch of them names and decided that they were the waterways of a fantasy kingdom, which I very creatively named Small, because it was a small land. (It was a small neighborhood, too.)

I elaborated on Small over the years. I worked in some ideas from a rather plotless fantasy scenario I liked to think about while I was in the shower or falling asleep, and also some stuff from the games Vicky and I played with two of our neighbors. In 1998, when I was sixteen, I drew a map. The village names are awfully English and somewhat twee, which may be Tolkien's fault -- there's some influence from the Shire, though the conception of elves and dwarves I was working with was quite different from Middle Earth. I had them living in a sort of sideways dimension accessible through occasional natural gateways, one of which was based on that little gap in the hedge that let a runoff stream vanish into the edge of the golf course.

Here is that initial map:

Small, old map

Vicky knew about Small, of course, and at one point we tried to cowrite a story in that setting. That is the source of the marker scribbles on the original map -- she was trying to diagram the journeys various characters would take over the course of the plot. That fell through. Our attempted collaborations have always fallen through. We think too differently about narrative. (I also hated her character names. I mean, Darkhead the evil wizard??? No. Not in my world.)

Anyway, I took the opportunity to make a tidier map and change some names so they made more sense. (The two Norburys are still inexplicable, though, since neither is anywhere remotely near the northern end of the country.)

Small, new map

These two maps are a little unusual for me, in that they are illustrated/symbolic. Villages are marked by tiny houses, forests are marked by tiny trees, etc. The occasional horseshoe shapes are tunnel entrances into the realm of the dwarves, and the little doubled horizontal lines mark gateways to the realm of the elves. (Note that Meadowbrook flows out of Faerie and then right back in, after passing by a rather interesting standing stone structure. Yes, that is the same old runoff stream that vanished under a hedge.)

I never did much with Small. I tried to write a story about a girl who lived in Stratham-by-the-Tunnels, but that never clicked. I made some vague gestures toward designing a religion and wrote fragments of a couple folk songs. I wrote a genealogy of the royal family, but that didn't spark any plots. I followed a foreign-born princess back to her original home and did a little world-building there, in the city of Shajento in the land of Qatham'bal, but the Ladyhawke-esque story I was vaguely poking at never coalesced into something workable.

However, those failures were not the end of this world! Note how the northern tip of Small -- which is at the bottom of the map, because we are in the southern hemisphere -- is bounded by the confluence of two rivers, which form the Great Mother River. You know where the Great Mother River goes as it flows northward?

Past Ochre Varos.


Small is the origin seed of Camia, aka the world of Finding Marea: Truth and Change in the Circle of Kemar. Small is one of the nameless lands of the southern pagans that Sister Harai mentions as a minor aside to her main narrative.

It's amazing how ideas mutate over the years. :-)


December Talking Meme: All Days
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December 22: mapping worlds and fandoms, cont'd (for [livejournal.com profile] joyeuce01) [Tumblr crosspost]

This world happened because of a high school writing assignment. No, seriously! I wrote a really terrible story about a woman and her lover fleeing into the western wilderness, and a confrontation they had with corrupt local law enforcement which ended when it turned out the woman was a witch and magically clobbered the asshole who had been threatening to rape her and kill her lover. Then I couldn't stop thinking about the world I'd implied around the edges of the narrative, and it got a little out of hand.

World-building has a tendency to do that around me. *wry*

a lot of blather and then a bunch of maps )

I really need to get back to writing in this world. I remember enjoying it a lot!


December Talking Meme: All Days
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December 21: mapping worlds and fandoms, cont'd (for [livejournal.com profile] joyeuce01) [Tumblr crosspost]

More maps, yay!

So okay, Firsthome. Firsthome is another world I dreamed up around age thirteen, but in this case my initial terrible notes (which included, IIRC, a legendary pirate and a mermaid??? I dunno, it was forever ago and the notes in question were, at best, one sentence summaries of concepts that need at least a thousand words to make any sense) were extremely minimal and I didn't get around to making maps until much later.

(Except for Yanomy, but Yanomy is a weird case I will explain in a bit.)

I first 'mapped' Firsthome verbally, and since then have been engaged in an off-and-on struggle to make those verbal descriptions of geography and climate into functional images. Like, there are seven continents in this world. Three in the northern hemisphere (Arina, Yanomy, and Tirith Ansam), three in the southern hemisphere (Nivenos, Kerabada, and Chida), and one that pretty much straddles the equator (Ohiyesa). Some of these names are, um, approximations in Common (aka the language of the Estarin Empire, which is still the common speech of Estaria, a big region of Arina) for names in the language of whatever people the Estarins happened to conquer first on a given continent. So Yanomy comes from the Sirinese (or Umestai) Yan hu'Komi, Chida is short for Chidantl, and Kerabada is an expanded version of Khrabda.

I have little verbal geographic sketches of the entirety of Arina, Yanomy, and Kerabada. I have about 80% of Nivenos verbally mapped, and maybe 20% of Tirith Ansam. Ohiyesa and Chida are very vague -- though I've actually written one ficlet each set on those continents. (Seduction is set in the city-state of Vinaeo, which is on the northern coast of Ohiyesa, and Clockwork is set in Besmodu, an as-yet-unmapped region of Chida.)

At one point I started a project to map the whole world by hemispheres, but I only finished the east; west, south, and north are all sadly blank. And the map itself is pretty sketchy and subject to future revision, particularly Chida and Ohiyesa. But here it is. (The scribbly bits are mountain ranges.)

there are a bunch of large images from this point onward )

And that's all I have to say about Firsthome today, since the topic is maps rather than history or linguistics or children's games or religion or epic poetry traditions or any of the other things I have created and written down over the past twenty years. :-)


December Talking Meme: All Days
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December 19: mapping worlds and fandoms, cont'd (for [livejournal.com profile] joyeuce01) [Tumblr crosspost]

I talked about mapping fandoms (or, more accurately, NOT mapping them) yesterday. Today I am going to talk about mapping original secondary worlds.

The short answer is, I do this a lot. Not always! I have written stories which, as with my fanfiction, have only verbal geographies. I have a bunch of projects I started to map but never got further than a preliminary sketch. And I have a bunch of maps that don't have proper stories attached to them. (Yet, anyway.) But I love maps, so I am going to show you every map I currently have at hand, and explain them at such length you will probably give up and click away from this post in despair before I am halfway through.

*ominous smile*

Let's start with Kerr!

cut for images and length )

(I think I am just going to continue this topic for any day I don't have an assigned topic. Like I said, I have a lot of maps and a lot of words to say about them!)


December Talking Meme: All Days
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December 18: mapping worlds and fandoms (for [livejournal.com profile] joyeuce01) [Tumblr crosspost]

Heh. This one requires some visual aids, I think. :-)

(I am assuming you mean physical maps, by the way, not social maps.)

I don't draw maps for my fanfiction work. The closest I've come is a seating diagram for the Great Hall in Hogwarts (did you know it changed between the first book and the later series?), a terrible architectural sketch of Ayakawa Yukiko's apartment building, and a vague attempt at assigning locations to a few buildings in Konoha.

Here are the two HP seating diagrams:

Here is an illustration of why I should never be an architect:

FYI, the section labeled A-D and the section labeled G-J both go up to the 7th story. The E-F section stops on the 5th or 6th story, which is why there are two staircases. The water tower sits between the front and back sections, and that little area is where Yukiko sometimes goes to get a bit of privacy. (IIRC, her own apartment and office are the E and F units on the 1st floor -- aka the ground floor, for Europeans.) The only time I really bothered to dig up and reference this diagram was when I had to assign Sasuke an apartment number.

And here is a terrible and probably incompatible with canon sketch of Konoha at large, which I don't think I have ever actually used as a writing aid:

I do have some ideas about 'what goes where' when it comes to parts of the Narnian world that aren't on any of the (incredibly implausible) maps of dubious canonicity, but they're entirely held in my head or in verbal form -- you can read my first Thoughts on Calormen post to see what I mean. I have made a similarly verbal attempt to rationalize Kaori Yuki's contradictory statements about the geography of Heaven and Hell in Angel Sanctuary, but again, that's not a map.

Original work is a different question entirely... and in fact requires so many illustrations that I am still in the process of scanning and/or photographing stuff and haven't even begun uploading things to Imgur. So I'm going to talk about that tomorrow, since I don't currently have an assigned topic for the 19th. Serendipity! :-)


December Talking Meme: All Days


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Elizabeth Culmer

June 2017

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