I seldom get this ambitious, but this story that wants to grow into a novel has been kicking around in my head for about a year now. I sat down and began sketching out the downtown area of the town of Rookdale. It was too big of an area for an approximately 6x9 page in the journal I am using to document names, places, noes, etc. (another thing I seldom do, but I started the novel and needed to refresh my memory, so took notes this time as there are a lot of characters in this one, and a lot of connections, enemies and allies among the people of this town where witchcraft still has a thrumming undercurrent.
I began drawing the map on a 9x12 Bristol board this morning between ten and noon. I had to go to work, so pulled the emerging map back out after dinner this evening and added a few more streets and locations, like two ponds, several farms and woodland. Also added a shingle where the locals hang out near the water and a boat launch area. There are old wharves at a stone and brick warehouse on the waterfront that is now a brew pub and restaurant. There's even a cliff walk park with a stone tower where a father threw his daughter off the cliff, and then her boyfriend mysteriously fell to his death (or was he pushed?)
I have farms, a dairy farm, a horse farm, and a supernatural area Rock Ring, sort of Stonehenge-esque and important as a place where rituals can be performed. The ponds are Crescent Pond and Smoke Pond, an Old Burying Ground reminiscent of the street my best friend grew up on that had arches at the entrance and led to a cemetery at the far end of the road. I always thought that was so creepy, to apparently live in a house inside the cemetery, but I think the cemetery was erected on property at the end of the street sometime after the houses were built, and then they added the arch way for Cedar Grove Cemetery at the entrance to the street...still creepy but we roller skated there just the same.
When the map was drawn I broke out the coloring pencils and began coloring it in. It came out very nicely (can be seen on my facebook page, the regular one, not the author page.
I showed it to Kelly and she was impressed. I showed it t John and he nodded, but I don't think he really understands the passion writer's have for creating a realistic setting for their novels- a place that the reader can travel to in their imagination and know their way around. It can be rather classic in form and content, so that maybe when a reader is passing through a real town or village one day something he sees- a monument, a white church beside a old graveyard, a stone wall with a dairy farm beyond, a corral, or a row of shops on a seaside street will evoke that town the writer created and populated with characters who seemed as real as living people. I want my readers to walk into an historical society building and think they will find Miss Argyle there ready to regale them with local history tidbits.
Sometimes it takes a village, sometimes it takes a town- sometimes it takes a writer with a burning passion willing to put in the time and effort to sit down and map out an entire town where her characters will live, interact, laugh, cry, fight a battle, lick their wounds, fall in love, raise their children, and pursue their dreams and destinies.
I'm willing to lay the groundwork upon which a novel will be based to make it as real as possible so that the reader feels as if they are staying at the Bed & Breakfast on the corner, or the Davies' purple and blue Guest House on Witch Lane.
Most of the time I draw a pen sketch to give me some landmarks...this time I went the whole nine yards. When I'm done, I'll fold the map and tuck it into the journal where the notes are written. I'll put the journal on the shelf beside the others I've done after the fact (for novels with sequels), and a red journal that is my Character Inspiration scrapbook, where I put all the pictures of people with interesting faces, striking color hair, hairstyles, and appearances. Some of them are by novel- like this is who I modeled Evangeline and Ardis on, this is Rex Royce and here is Lucie Palmer, this is Benjamin "Beans" Carter and Amanda Pennington,,,others remain unidentified, to be included in future novels.
I have only one other full color hand drawn map on a sheet of poster paper- the Italian island of Monte Fiore- a totally made up place with a ferry to the mainland somewhere near the boot heel (where my ancestors originated from).