Not everyone will want to do this, but for those of you who do, I thought I would share my experience with it, with you. I wanted to create a world that would be the home base for all the fantasy stories I had rattling around inside my head.
I know there are now online websites where you can now go to create a map for your world but when I created my map, home computers were pretty much non-existent and the internet was nothing I’d even dreamed of yet. Even if I were creating it today, I would probably still start out the same way.
I ordered some hexagonal map paper (roughly 32in X 16in) and created my continents. I made the land masses fill most of the map since the vast majority of my stories would take place on land. I did place create an ocean that surrounded all the land masses and a large bay to provide an obstacle to overcome. I then placed mountain ranges, deserts, jungles, swamps, and plains. I then started placing lakes and a network of rivers. Lastly, I created islands in the bay and the surrounding ocean. I then looked at maps of earth and the individual continents to compare them to the one I created. I wanted my map to be consistent with earth’s as far as the layout of mountains, deserts, jungles, plains, etc… It was my own creation but it still had to make sense to my future readers. I adjusted the map until I was happy with it and then moved on to the next step.
I took another hexagonal map and copied the outline of my previous map onto it. I think bought some map colors, created a color code for the different terrains and colored in all the different regions. I had just a couple more steps then I could start creating stories from my own world.
My next step was to create a list of the creatures that would inhabit my make-believe world. I was excited about it so I may individual index cards for each creature. I used the traditional fantasy creatures I grew up and created some of my own. I bought a couple of index card boxes and organized them as intelligent, domestic, sea dwelling, etc… I made a list of all the creatures and then I got another hexagonal map and copied the outline of my world onto this map. I went down the list of my creatures and used this third map to place each of my creatures in its proper terrain, making sure to spread the intelligent creatures out so that each would have its own little nation to populate. I made sure to put the races in proper relation to other races that they have relationships with, good or bad.
Now that my general home world was set up, it was time to get down to writing my first story. I wanted to begin with one of my intelligent races that I created. I chose the Swads as they were one my favorites. The Swads were a peaceful race that lived in the plains, alongside a river. They created cities made of stone and they used canals to move around the city. They redirected water from the river to fill their canals with gates on either of the city to control the water level. Then I chose another of my races that were warlike and had them invade the Swad territories.
I was all set to go except for one thing. I had no idea how to write. I was twenty years old with a vivid imagination but no writing skills at all. At first, I didn’t let that phase me. I had to use a notebook since computers and word processors were still years away. I got up to about forty-five written pages and made a major mistake. I went back and reread it. I rewrote those same pages so many times I lost count and I was never happy with it. That was a very long time ago but I still have what I’d written. I may go back someday and give it another shot. Who knows? Though I never finished that story, I kept the map and I still use it as the setting for my stories even today, over thirty years later. There’s nothing else I’ve ever had that I got so much use from. If you write fantasy, I would suggest you get a pencil and let your imagination soar.