This Friday, I’ll be teaching a workshop on Worldbuilding at the Jot Conference. Most workshops are, um, workshops – you do shop. Mine won’t be any different. I am going to walk you through the process of putting together the pieces behind your story. It’s like creating the board on which to play your game. Your characters will interact with the world and as its creator – you’ll need to know a lot about it.
For worldbuilding part 1 go here. Another portion of the worldbuilding process is cartography. Whether you are doing a modern murder mystery set in New York City or a fully detailed fantasy you’ll need to know the terrain and for that you’ll need a map.
If there is a chase scene or a battle on the plains of ___ you’ll need to know where these places are located. The map and terrain will impact things like the vocabulary of the locals, commerce, and transportation no matter if your story takes place in rural Iowa or the mountains of Neatherdale.
As you consider your current story know that the level of realism can be so much deeper if we have a firm grasp of the lay of the land.
Sure, court thriller writers take in a few legal suits or work a bit as a paralegal. They sit through courtroom cases and talk with inmates if possible. This is research. But they are also getting their bearings. They must know the general layout of the courtroom too. And the best way to do that is to make a map.