View Poll Results: Map versus Story

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  • Map comes first

    10 40.00%
  • Story comes first

    15 60.00%
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Thread: Map versus Story

  1. #11
      jbgibson is offline
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    I've answered "map first", but that's only partly my way. I prefer physical geography first - landforms, climate, land cover, drainage. With that mapped, maybe even not in exquisite detail, I can come up with some story. not "John left the castle, setting off on the King's Road into the sunset...", but the big sweep of history, society, culture. Then I'll go back to mapping and devise some politics - borders, habitation, transport, land use. Then that level of geography suggests story opportunities.

    While it's iterative, I usually don't backtrack on the maps. Maybe that's a measure of the strength (or NOT) of my plots - the world having attained more solidity in my mind than what I have to say in a story.

    Of course I do have a backlog of story and plot fragments, characters and situations. As I wander around a new setting, one or more of them will crawl out of my memory and slap me upside the head. So would that be "story first"?

  2. #12
    Guild Novice rocketmonkey's Avatar
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    The McChicken* came before the McEgg**

    Here, the McChicken is the Story and the McEgg is the Map.


    * The alien entity that is McChicken was banished aeons ago by an ancient, elder race of unknown and unimaginably powerful beings. Entombed in a small meteorite, the octopoid deviant known as McChicken was sent hurtling through the frozen depths of space, covering untold light-years, until his prison-tomb smashed into the primal Earth and was buried beneath the crust.

    Millions of years past, and McChicken was trapped, incarcerated beneath rock and ocean. Dreaming evil dreams, he laid waiting throughout the ages until weak-willed and power-hungry creatures called humans, in their folly and blind curiosity, came to know the dreams of McChicken and became enthralled by his promises of power. A plot was set in motion to release the alien being and today we approach the day of reckoning, when McChicken will rise from His slumber and break free onto the surface world. And he will bring with him one huge appetite…

    ** The original McEgg, laid 100 million years hence, had a diameter of two miles. This gives you an idea of just how big McChicken is.
    rocketmonkey

  3. #13
      Redrobes is offline
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    Quote Originally Posted by Coyotemax View Post
    To me, the story helps drive the map, and the map helps drive the story.
    ditto.

    I think the more ways you look at the same thing the more facets you can bring to bear on it. I dont write books but I do write software which is kinda wordy but we all make diagrams to sort out in our head how to make it in a succinct and clean way. Some people are more visual than literary and vice versa but few people are all of one and none the other.

    It bugs me in books when there is a logical inconsistency and it also bugs me when the visual aspects don't seem to line up. It also awes me in books when they are strong in both too. You can usually tell which writers like their maps and which don't cos some of the characters wander aimlessly with almost no references to anything that pins them to a location and for others it makes a big deal.

    I'm reading Tolkien at mo with the Hobbit and he is always referencing whether the sun is setting behind the Mistys or rising in the morning from them or that Gandalf had to travel X number of hours to get to a point where he could cross a river, he knows how much rations they need and when they will run out and so on. He clearly had the map done when he wrote it and knew where they were on it at all times and used it to add to the text. I also think that the Mistys running all the way up the middle (an improbable geological effect) shows that he needed that barrier so must have had an idea about the story requiring them going underground to find Gollum and the ring before the map was drawn up too.

    To and fro between them developing them in turn or together. Therefore I abstain !

  4. #14
      Larb is offline
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    I say story mostly. Especially as I make more and more maps. Ages ago, I'd just throw down a map and then try to come up with a story to fit it.

    But lately, I like to think of a story behind features (particularly in city maps). Why a city wall is in a certain place. Why it was built where it was. Whether it was a planned city, or just grew up, etc etc.
    History has some place in this. Cities like florence and its towers that were used as district control points. Old city wall towers that, as a city expanded, weren't torn down but just reused while the walls they were connected to were.

    I like to do it for city buildings in my key as well. Like on one map I named a brewery "Vallin's Company", and I thought about how it might have been an old army officer who, after being discharged, formed a brewery with a few of the same men from his company. Little things like that.

  5. #15
      Ryan K is offline
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    I always go for world-building first. Nothing extremely detailed, just a good workable map that I'm not going to bin after looking at it a dozen times, and a general idea of where I want to have my story take place.

    Then comes the story, which expands in step with expanded world-building.

    For instance, I know where my towns and countries are going to be, but I won't name them, and instead have a lot of dots labelled 'Town' or 'City' and other 'Country' labels ready to go. Then as I establish in the storyline where places should be, local history and politics, I add it to the map as I go along, so it sort of feeds back into it.

    It's the philosophy of setting the board before you play chess.
    Regards,

    RK

  6. #16
      waldronate is online now
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    The two need to grow together to be coherent. Usually it's form the big ideas (the purpose for the map along with the places needed), then do a rough map, then a rough story, then a better map, then a better or more story, and so on.

    Having said that, there are stories that don't require a map, maps no requirement for a story (pure art), and maps that lead to stories.

    OK, I think that covered all the bases on the way to being totally noncommital.

  7. #17
    Guild Artisan Gracious Donor LonewandererD's Avatar
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    Wow I didn't expect to get so many answers so fast, cool. So I guess the safest option would be to try and find a mid point between the two, develop both story and map at the same time, like what Waldronate said. Thnx guys.

    On a side note, would anyone be interested in reading my fantasy back stories and stuff, I would really need some outside opinions on my world's story before I get too indepth with a story.

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  8. #18
      JoeyD473 is offline
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    For me it varies. Sometimes I have a story in mind and work on it a little, then begin mapping and changing the story as I map to fit the map, and ideas generated from it. Other times, like what I am working on now, I have begin working on a map and come up with varies story/plot lines as I go on. so basically I agree with waldronate. Story and map building go hand in hand and need to be worked on together.

  9. #19
      Ryan K is offline
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    Quote Originally Posted by LonewandererD View Post
    On a side note, would anyone be interested in reading my fantasy back stories and stuff, I would really need some outside opinions on my world's story before I get too indepth with a story.
    I'd be glad to help, mate.
    Regards,

    RK

  10. #20
      LS-Jebus is offline
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    I find it much easier to create a world, then draw a story from it.

    When I have a developed world, all the political conflicts, history, social issues and everything just pop out at me.

    If the story is involving a rebellion against an unwanted duke, I can gather my thoughts and place everyone in a reasonable location and plan out where they would go, who would become involved... although I suck at writing stories and never get very far. Lots of ideas, just little ability to put it down.
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