Write On- Mapping your novel


One of the marvels of fiction is the ability to go to places you have never been and take your reader there with you. It’s would fabulous if we all could be like Hemingway and go run with bulls, or have a Moveable Feast in Paris, but, for most of us, we are arm-chair travellers, armed with books, maps, and notes. How lucky we are to be living in the era of the internet. With just a quick search you can use Google Maps, to make sure your character when he does run straight ahead, he is not running straight into the river, when he is supposed to be running into a house!

But what if you need to go back into time? There are some fabulous map resources to really help cement your world in the correct time. Things change and so quickly. I remember when my father wanted to take me on a tour of his childhood London and how when we were only about two hours into our day, I could see his spirits falling. Old haunts were now replaced with Big Name Video Shops, even as I write this, I am aware that those Big Name Video Shops are probably now penny for the pound type of places. Google Maps can give you street views so you can double-check.

For other older resources, The British Library and its on-line map collection is just amazing. I can’t wait until they can get the entire library digital. Patience! Patience!


And if you are the next Tolkien, you won’t need any of this, as you will have your own world to map!

About susan sheldon nolen

It’s rare to catch me without coffee, a form of camera, or my beloved wire fox terriers. I love the history, the art, and it’s a massive part of my life, as I either paint, write, or get interrupted by my dogs, reminding me of the real world. I hope you enjoy your time here. It’s such a privilege to have readers.
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4 Responses to Write On- Mapping your novel

  1. Tom Merriman says:

    Good tips there Susan… and I love maps. I’m off to have a nosy! 😀

  2. Susan, my novel specializes in this sort of research. I read A LOT of academic works, in addition to perusing old maps. Reading got me very far.

    However, nothing replaces experiencing a place. Even though my places were very different than they were a few short years ago, when my book is set, the smells are the same. The weight of the air is the same.

  3. Andra, I love research. Like you, those academic books go far. Loved your comment
    –The weight of the air is the same! —
    Very poetic!

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