Writing Forums

Writing Forums is a privately-owned, community managed writing environment. We provide an unlimited opportunity for writers and poets of all abilities, to share their work and communicate with other writers and creative artists. We offer an experience that is safe, welcoming and friendly, regardless of your level of participation, knowledge or skill. There are several opportunities for writers to exchange tips, engage in discussions about techniques, and grow in your craft. You can also participate in forum competitions that are exciting and helpful in building your skill level. There's so much more for you to explore!

Using Maps for a WIP (1 Viewer)

Stormcat

Senior Member
The majority of my WIP takes place on an island. There's a fishing village, some farms, and a great big manor house for the Lord and Lady of the island. The manor house and its surrounding grounds are actually based on a real historical manor in my area, so I can easily look up a photo of the place if I ever forget how the rooms are arranged or what flowers grow in what garden.

The scene has shifted so that my MC and a friend are leaving the manor grounds and visiting the fishing village. This village I'm creating entirely from my own imagination, so I should probably map out the place to keep track of everything. Question is, how detailed should I make it? How big does a village of a few dozen families need to be in the first place? The only thing I know for certain is in this village is a one-room schoolhouse (With seventeen students of varying ages)

Also, can anyone give me some ideas of real-life seaside villages that I could use for inspiration? I'm thinking somewhere in the North Atlantic region, doesn't matter what side of the pond. Something with an "old" look to it, since the story takes place in the early 1900s.
 

Stormcat

Senior Member
Peggy's Cove in Nova Scotia, Canada

It's nice, but the website says there are only 30 permanent residents. I'm looking for a place for say, 125 permanent residents.

Also, most of the businesses there are tourism-related in some way. My little village is a working fishing village. What sort of businesses would you need in a 19th-century fishing village? Not an ice cream parlor or Art gallery, that's for sure.
 

Stormcat

Senior Member
It's nice, but the website says there are only 30 permanent residents. I'm looking for a place for say, 125 permanent residents.

Also, most of the businesses there are tourism-related in some way. My little village is a working fishing village. What sort of businesses would you need in a 19th-century fishing village? Not an ice cream parlor or Art gallery, that's for sure.
EDIT: I think I found my inspiration for the village. The Island of Sark, the littlest of the Channel Islands. Its population is a bit bigger than I want, but I like all the stonework used in the historical buildings.

Still, I don't want to create an EXACT replica of Sark in my story, so How should I go about setting up the map of the village?
 

TMarie

Senior Member
EDIT: I think I found my inspiration for the village. The Island of Sark, the littlest of the Channel Islands. Its population is a bit bigger than I want, but I like all the stonework used in the historical buildings.

Still, I don't want to create an EXACT replica of Sark in my story, so How should I go about setting up the map of the village?

Peggy's Cove was established as a fishing village in 1915, well before tourism became its main attraction. This is where research would kick in as I'm there are scads of descriptions and pictures from back then. Anyway, glad you found a place that fits better with your story, and have fun creating a map!
 

Stormcat

Senior Member
So far these are the businesses/ facilities I know for sure will definitely be in the village:
A general store
A clothing shop
A tavern
A bakery
A one-room school
A pharmacy/ Doctor's practice
A post office/ telegraph office
The docks and a dozen or so fishing vessels
Town hall
A boat repair place
And the harbor master's office.

Should I include anything else?
 

Backstroke_Italics

Senior Member
This list of amenities is generally beyond what you would ifnd in a typical village of ~125 people (unless it's a special case; tourist traps tend to have more amenities than, say, crabbing villages, but not as much as company towns, etc.). I will post more later, but I've done a lot of research on this for my own writing, comparing small fishing and coastal communities in Ireland, Canada, the US, and parts of the UK and France. It's a fascinating rabbit hole, and I would be glad to go over it with you in more detail if it's something you're really interested in. I also love drawing maps, so I'd be happy to draw you a fishing village/island map.
 
  • Like
Reactions: JBF

JBF

Staff member
Global Moderator
You could probably combine a few of these and omit certain others.

- General store/clothing is pretty much the same, and tavern/bakery have enough overlap that could roll them together without losing much.

- A one-room school in a town so small is likely to be somebody's house. Alternately, it may be part of an education provided by the church, which is curiously absent given a lot of towns near the turn of the century might be small enough for the church building itself to act as town hall.

- Same for doctors; fairly often in rural areas there might be one or two doctors in the county who'd make weekly rounds and try to get all the locals at once. Said doctor would probably have an office in the nearest town of appreciable size. A barber might fit the bill some better in a town of less than two hundred.

- Your post office is likely to be part of your town hall. As for the telegraph...is there enough happening in the village to justify its presence and the maintenance of the wires to and from? Technology was expensive in 1900, so you won't see it anyplace it isn't direly needed.

- Piers are generally built so a port can handle heavier shipping with deeper drafts. Unless you have medium/larger coasters regularly coming by, your town might be better served by a seawall/waterfront with docking space parallel to the shoreline.

- Same question for the harbormaster - what's he do? Unless there's commercial shipping about the job would be redundant, and chances are no self-respecting fisherman would listen to a trumped-up bureaucrat in a funny hat.

- Boat repair is probably a matter of hauling the boats ashore and doing the work on the beach. If you're looking for something like hoists, slipways, drydocks, or marine railways...you'd need the kind of steady business and heavy commercial funding to make it worth the while.
 

Stormcat

Senior Member
- General store/clothing is pretty much the same, and tavern/bakery have enough overlap that could roll them together without losing much.

Got it. I was reluctant to include the bakery at all but a writer friend thought it would be cute to have.

- A one-room school in a town so small is likely to be somebody's house. Alternately, it may be part of an education provided by the church, which is curiously absent given a lot of towns near the turn of the century might be small enough for the church building itself to act as town hall.

Since my story takes place in a Fantasy world, there is no church, or any religious presence at all really, in this town. I already have created about 17 students for the school, so a schoolhouse will be necessary. You try wrangling that many kids in a house!

- Your post office is likely to be part of your town hall. As for the telegraph...is there enough happening in the village to justify its presence and the maintenance of the wires to and from? Technology was expensive in 1900, so you won't see it anyplace it isn't direly needed.

The Telegraph in this fantasy world has been around for longer than in our world, It's now affordable for even the most isolated village. Still, I'll probably combine these offices with town hall into a sort of general town government building.

- Piers are generally built so a port can handle heavier shipping with deeper drafts. Unless you have medium/larger coasters regularly coming by, your town might be better served by a seawall/waterfront with docking space parallel to the shoreline.

There is a Yacht owned by the lord of the island, but he parks it elsewhere.

- Same question for the harbormaster - what's he do? Unless there's commercial shipping about the job would be redundant, and chances are no self-respecting fisherman would listen to a trumped-up bureaucrat in a funny hat.

He's mostly there to keep the secret police happy. This island on which the village is located is part of an Imperial property where the Grand Prince likes to vacation. If the Grand Prince is on the Island, the Harbormaster had BETTER be in his office or the townsfolk will suffer. Most of the time, He's just an ordinary boat captain.

- Boat repair is probably a matter of hauling the boats ashore and doing the work on the beach. If you're looking for something like hoists, slipways, drydocks, or marine railways...you'd need the kind of steady business and heavy commercial funding to make it worth the while.

There is fishing, but certainly not industrial fishing. It's mostly done to keep the Imperial Villa in supply of fish. Certainly not enough fishing to warrant a dry dock being built.

Now, I am questioning whether or not to put a little cannery in the village as well. After all, the fish will need to be preserved for when the Grand Prince isn't around to eat it, and some fish, such as smelt or anchovies, will be caught but not necessarily eaten by the Imperial Villa.

EDIT: Just clarified something.
 
Last edited:

ehbowen

Senior Member
Yes, definitely a cannery or else facilities for salting and smoking. Fish doesn't keep.

I was going to say that a boatyard is out of place for such a small village (~125 inhabitants); in a village of that size I would expect the fishermen do their own repairing/maintaining and go to repair facilities in a larger town (of ~1000 or so) for anything major. But if a nobleman is bankrolling the facilities then do as you wish.

I still say that you need a ship chandlery, possibly combined with the general store. If a nobleman is running the operation it could be a 'company store', hence unpopular.

A "greengrocer" might be popular; variety in diet is desirable and sea coast land is often inhospitable for gardening. Flour and beans and the like will almost certainly be carried by the general store, but if the town is relatively prosperous some enterprising individual will probably take the role of a middleman between the fishermen and the inland farmers. If the nobleman forbids and/or the villagers are dirt-poor, maybe not...although I'll wager that there would still be a bit of a black market.

That brings to mind a story/subplot idea: What if there has recently been a change in local administration? From a wise and benevolent nobleman to his grasping, conniving, and exploitative heir? Or, contrariwise, a tyrannical overlord has recently been replaced by an enlightened successor who opens the villagers' eyes to new possibilities. Might be able to do something with that. (No charge!)
 

Stormcat

Senior Member
That brings to mind a story/subplot idea: What if there has recently been a change in local administration? From a wise and benevolent nobleman to his grasping, conniving, and exploitative heir? Or, contrariwise, a tyrannical overlord has recently been replaced by an enlightened successor who opens the villagers' eyes to new possibilities. Might be able to do something with that. (No charge!)

Nope! The Story I'm currently working on already centers on the lives of those in the Manor house, NOT the village.
 

Stormcat

Senior Member
Right, so I think I have all the businesses I need for this village, How should I go about actually making the map? Just grab some paper and start drawing, or is there a more comprehensive method to it?
 

Backstroke_Italics

Senior Member
So I’ve consulted my notes, and I think everyone is overestimating how much infrastructure goes into an Edwardian fishing village. Assuming this ~125 people is the whole community (i.e. it’s not the nucleus of a much larger farming area), then I suspect there would just be a tavern and a store, which may be combined into the same establishment, and obviously a church with a cemetery. The question of a dedicated school house is difficult to say for certain. Generally rural communities this size did not have one, but some did. Anything beyond that is highly unlikely for Britain at this time period. Unlike in America, the Royal Mail has never been that dedicated to ensuring that every remote community has its own post office, so most likely people would go to the mainland for their mail. There are communities of nearly a thousand people today that still don’t have a post office. And there would certainly be no doctor (at least none with a permanent practice based on the island), a baker, a clothing shop, or a town hall. There could be a harbor, but it would consist of a stone seawall to tie boats to, not wooden jetties. A beach would suffice for smaller boats. In other words, this village will almost exclusively consist of houses, and the only thing that would stand out architecturally would be the church.

So how do you map this? The prototypical medieval vilage consisted of a single road, with plots spreading out on either side of the road. A village this size probably wouldn't deviate much from this plan, but there could be a T junction, assuming there is anywhere else to go on this island. The T junction would almost certainly be near the church. Let's assume for the moment a coastal road with houses on one side and a stone seawall on the other, a junction next to a small church, and another road with houses on both sides (one of which is a combination tavern and store) leading to the manor slightly inland. Coastal roads with major works were sometimes called Embankment Road, and any road that leads to a church or a manor has a good chance of being called Church Road or Manor Road. If the island ever contained a Roman fort, that would impact how the roads were laid out, and if we're along the Celtic Fringe or the former Danelaw or the Channel Islands they might have different names, but I'm assuming that's not the case.

How much room does this take up? A typical village will have lots roughly 5~6 meters wide, although once you get a short distance from the center you will get actual farms that are dozens or even hundreds of meters along the road. Let's assume we have 16 houses that are part of our "core" of closely packed houses. Since this is a fishing village, we could assign ten of those to Embankment Road (maybe five on either side of the junction), and then six more on either side of Manor Road, making room for the church and cemetery. That means our village will be a three-pointed star with each leg being around 20~25 meters long.
 
Last edited:

Stormcat

Senior Member
EDIT: I felt like I wasn't being listened to and I apologize for lashing out.
 
Last edited:

JBF

Staff member
Global Moderator
Happy now?

Tread lightly.

If you aren't getting the input you want, my advice would be to amend your original request to better reflect the unique characteristics of your story. Then if people offer advice that you can't use, smile and nod and ignore it.

It is strongly advised you not insult those willing to help you.
 

Stormcat

Senior Member
Look, let's forget this entire debacle with what businesses will or will not be included. I've had a rough day at work and I'm coming up on a writing deadline, so I really need to move this along as quickly as I can.

As of right now, all I'm looking for is advice on how to draw a map. What to include in a rather simple map I will have for my own writing reference so I don't accidentally include contradictory directions. Let's just talk pure geography at this point.
 

Ajoy

Senior Member
As of right now, all I'm looking for is advice on how to draw a map. What to include in a rather simple map I will have for my own writing reference so I don't accidentally include contradictory directions. Let's just talk pure geography at this point.
@Backstroke_Italics gave you a very detailed geographical example of how you might design a map. You can use that general concept and insert the features that you are choosing to include in your story.

 

Stormcat

Senior Member
So how do you map this? The prototypical medieval vilage consisted of a single road, with plots spreading out on either side of the road. A village this size probably wouldn't deviate much from this plan, but there could be a T junction, assuming there is anywhere else to go on this island. The T junction would almost certainly be near the church. Let's assume for the moment a coastal road with houses on one side and a stone seawall on the other, a junction next to a small church, and another road with houses on both sides (one of which is a combination tavern and store) leading to the manor slightly inland. Coastal roads with major works were sometimes called Embankment Road, and any road that leads to a church or a manor has a good chance of being called Church Road or Manor Road. If the island ever contained a Roman fort, that would impact how the roads were laid out, and if we're along the Celtic Fringe or the former Danelaw or the Channel Islands they might have different names, but I'm assuming that's not the case.

How much room does this take up? A typical village will have lots roughly 5~6 meters wide, although once you get a short distance from the center you will get actual farms that are dozens or even hundreds of meters along the road. Let's assume we have 16 houses that are part of our "core" of closely packed houses. Since this is a fishing village, we could assign ten of those to Embankment Road (maybe five on either side of the junction), and then six more on either side of Manor Road, making room for the church and cemetery. That means our village will be a three-pointed star with each leg being around 20~25 meters long.

I went through what you wrote and bolded the relevant bits to the story. Everything else is pure, unnecessary fluff. I won't be using any names for the roads, nor will there be a church or cemetery.

So what I can glean is that it'll just have two roads, one of which leads up to the manor, and I guess the other one makes a big loop through the islands so farmers can get their goods to market.

Now, on to island geography. Do I need to specify elevation at all? The Manor is on a big hill, but I haven't really even planned the basic shape of the island itself. Should I have it be a specific, recognizable shape or just a boring "island-shaped" island? I know there will be a bay of some sort, but that's all I've got.
 
Last edited:
Top