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» Hatrack River Writers Workshop » Forums » Open Discussions About Writing » Custom continents

   
Author Topic: Custom continents
MartinV
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I am in a serious pickle. I have an idea for a story and I would really need to create a map for this one.

I'm watching all these projections of continental drift and none of them suit me. So I need to have a custom map with all the continents distorted in various ways. I want the Earth to be not as easily recognizable but still have a few details that might give a hint. I don't want to put flatlands where there are mountains today. The continuity equation must still apply.

Is there any program out there that might give me a simple way to tweak continents, modify sea level and such? I think it might be better to talk to a drawer about this, someone who could sketch this one because me using a program would take too long and my drawing is not worth called that.

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rcmann
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You probably do need an artist. There are several mamp drawing programs out there designed for rpgs and/or fantsy stories. But theones I have seen are either random or too simplisitic for what you seem to want.
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extrinsic
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Physical geography holds answers. The Atlantic Ocean is widening, the Pacific narrowing, for example. The Hawaiian Islands are eroding at one end of the chain, growing new sea mounts at the other. The Indian subcontinent is still pushing into Asia. Global warming, which is raising sea levels, will result in a temperature inversion, a new if comparatively brief ice age, and consequently lower sea levels.

A map of continental plates and fault lines would be most illustrative. If instead of seven continents, what if there are twelve? And more achipelegos? The continents and shelfs are made primarily of granitic crust foundations, The oceans of basaltic rock. They move around as if icebergs floating on a sea, facing numerous influential forces.

Take the plate map, separate the major continental plates into puzzle pieces, and move them around in the manner the continents are trending. You can do this with paper sketches or with image programs, begin with paper cutouts and progress to computer apps. The Hawaiian Islands, for example, are moving roughly 100 milimeters annually west-northwest along a slow counterclockwise arc.

See the Wikipedia topic "Plate Tectonics" for links to continental movements from the Pangea era to present. Project a trend, and Barb's your aunt.

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shimiqua
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I think maps are fun to draw, and world building down to fault lines, is just part of writing.

I think you don't need a brilliant, or perfect, map in order to write a novel or story. Get a piece of paper( or five), break out the pencils, and draw a few blobs in the general way the story needs them to be. Find the shore line, and add inlets, rivers, docks, ponds, or lakes. Remember that cities usually form around water, so plan accordingly. Choose a fault line, and add hills which turn to mountains. Where mountains are, are usually forests, without trees, there's no shade, so if your in no shade, and there isn't a river nearby, then you are in a desert.

As you make small decisions, they form more concrete landscaping, which...when you add people, give you insight into culture, technology, education, religion...

Wait for perfection until the book is finished. The publisher will hire an artist. If you want to go the self-pub route, you might want to check at Deviant art.com when the book is finished. There might be a struggling artist who'd dig a chance to be published, and who'd do the work for free.

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rcmann
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You could always introduce a major asteroid impact. Even a near miss by a large enough celestial body might induce tectonic distortion.
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