The Mapmaker’s Author

There’s something magical about the way a book can transport you to another place or time. Vivid description has a lot to do with that. But sometimes what you really need is an illustration. 

Photo by Ekrulila on

Images are becoming more and more commonly used in all kinds of communication. Just compare the number of views social media posts with images get, versus text only posts. People like pictures.

And there are good reasons for including them in fiction books, too. Reading a description of an imaginary place, character or creature is fine. But real things used in a fictional story can be shown to great effect as an image. Particularly if they are things you have never actually seen.

Illustrations are usually found in children’s books. But there are illustrations in some books for adults. For example, maps. Unlike other kinds of illustrations, maps are often found in the fantasy and historical fiction genres.

The style of the map sets the tone for the story.

Maps are really useful when the author is describing a journey or when the story occurs across several locations. But there is more to the specialism of mapmaking than conveying direction and distance information.

Maps are usually at the front of the book. So the style of the map sets the tone for the story. The choice of colour or monotone, whether it looks hand-drawn or computer-generated, the type of landscape illustrated, the amount of detail included, and the font used in the place names, all contribute to the reader experience.

And what a wonderful experience it is, when a character turns a corner and you see their destination ahead of them of them before the book even tells you where they are going.

Have you read any books with maps? What do you think of them?

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