Editing books, editing maps

June was a big month of editing. I tore through a good portion of the third book in my Snakesblood Saga—still tentatively titled, I suppose, as I’m never fully happy with most of the names I manage to come up with. I’m mostly happy with the individual book titles, but that perfect series title has always eluded me.

One thing I didn’t expect to revisit during the editing process was the world map. I know I need to finish it if it’s going to be printed in the front of the books, but the more I thought about it, the more I realized it made no sense to put the full world map in the first two books. The first two books in the series take place in one specific locale; there’s no reason to focus on places that aren’t even mentioned until the third book. So for the first time in ages, I cracked open the image files for the map I drew for Elenhiise Island.

My first map of Elenhiise is still tucked inside the massive three-ring binder that holds the first draft of the first book. Its edges are tattered and its surfaced is creased, but it’s still the best representation of my original idea. And like the books, the vision I originally had was close, but not quite there. Though I’d redrawn it a few times, I didn’t realize until my most recent trek back through the first two books that it needed to change.

Overall, the changes were minor; a few years ago, I’d drafted a version that included lakes and rivers, as well as the names and locations of minor cities. Not all of those cities are noteworthy in the first book, but some of them come into play later on. A few important locations were slightly misplaced, though, and after refreshing my memory as I went through the story, I knew the map needed a few little updates.

A few locations were moved—Ilmenhith pushed closer to the sea, and a boundary between the two halves of the island shifted to better reflect placement described in the second book. Minor changes, really, but jarring after so many years of picturing things a certain way.

Map of Elenhiise Island

The spelling on a few locations and markers was changed as well. Ironically, I’d gone through a few iterations of city names and then cycled back to what I’d had in the first draft. Funny how that works, sometimes, but learning to trust your gut is an important part of storytelling.

Despite the care I put into the original map, I also realize I’ll have to redraw the graphic altogether before anything goes to print. Print editions demand I convert the whole thing to vector format—at least, if I want a good-looking image in the front pages. I’m not looking forward to the process, but it’s a necessary evil. With luck, I’ll figure out some shortcuts along the way. On the plus side, though, I can use the version I have for ereaders and web graphics. Like on this blog, here!

Almost good enough to put in the front of a book, I think…

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