When I first read The Lord of the Rings Trilogy, one of the most engaging aspects of the books for me were the maps. I’ve since encountered other great fantasy works which include detailed maps of the imaginary worlds in which the novels are set.
As a writer, when I look over a map relating to a novel, I’m wondering, “What came first: the map or the novel?” Was the world created through words, then interpreted in a map, or vice versa? The answer may sit somewhere in between.
Regardless of how J.R.R. Tokien, George R.R. Martin, and other authors used their maps in the writing process, I’ve found with young writers, drawing a map can be a great pre-writing strategy. With their imaginary world set out before them, the ideas for plot development flow much more effortlessly when they can actually ‘see’ where their story is taking place.
For further reading on the topic of maps of imaginary places, check out this great article by Maria Popova: “Legendary Lands: Umberto Eco on the Greatest Maps of Imaginary Places and Why They Appeal to Us.”