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Map Building Help

To start this post, I hate not knowing where things are in the world I’m creating. I hate not knowing the timeline — by-product of watching too many TV shows without a concrete timeline and attempting to write in their world — and I hate trying to write where my characters are but have no idea where they would be on a map.

Does anyone have any advice for making a hand-made map with a grid?

I’ve looked some things up online, but they’ve been rather unhelpful. I’m working on a standard Letter-sized paper (8.5x11 inches), and everything I’m looking at is working on 50-inch papers that I have no money to buy.

How do you grid your map, if you do?
How do you plot out where things go on your map?
If you don’t use a grid, how do you figure out the distance between one place and another?

Or, do you use online applications to help with map-making that is user-friendly?

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It sounds like you’re referring to a plot grid, a feature that Dabble supports directly. There is a famous plot grid that Joanne Rowling did that fits on letter paper. You can create one using a simple spreadsheet, presentation package or word processor. But Dabble integrates the plot grid into the writing tool so that’s what I use it for.

Now if you want a real timeline with actual places, dates and times then check out Scrivener plus Aeon Timeline together.

You also mention mapping, distance and location, and taking you literally, let me suggest Wonderdraft . It lets you create easily and enjoyably very lovely maps with oceans, rivers, mountains, roads, structures, forests and the like.

I meant grid plotting hand-drawn maps.

I do use the plot grid extensively for my plot and the story notes for my timeline.

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I’ve drawn a few maps on 8.5 x 11 in paper, but it was years ago. I’m trying to remember how I did it.

The first thing is to decide the scale of what you are drawing. Is this your world, a city, a building, a room? The bigger the area the smaller your individual symbols will be. In a city, the mountain outside the city might take up one side of your map. That same mountain might be part of a range on a continent map with a star symbol showing where the city will be.

Draw from big to small - draw your continents before islands, government buildings before single family homes, nature before man made.

Also, research climates and how they work. has a tutorial. has a bunch of tutorials but you will have to search for the hand drawn tutorials.

I hope this helps at least a little. Happy Mapping.

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