Lessons Learned: Map || Memories

The intent behind Map || Memories was to explore how to integrate map and story into something new. I grew up on those epic fantasy novels where there was almost always a world map in the first few pages, but they always were just a supplement (later I would play fantasy games where the world map was something to look forward to, to interact with – I wouldn’t be surprised if some of this intent stems from that experience).

In my head, the original idea was to be more interactive, where the reader could touch parts of the map and experience memories unfolding like the protagonist – but I’m not great at coding and WordPress isn’t exactly helpful in that regard. So I fell back onto a sort of flash fiction approach, which was actually after another failure: I’d envisioned a series of one-liners that would accompany one of those epic world maps, but I realized the hard way that making a map from scratch was quite difficult. Hence the limited range now on the post.

Lesson learned #1: Make it smaller – then smaller still.

I started with some of the text first, then tried to draw the map to match images in my mind during those scenes. While I’m okay with how that relationship turned out, I’m curious how different it would have been if I had done things the other way around and started with the map first.

To make the map, I just used the built in memo app on an old Samsung tablet. While it was quick, it certainly wasn’t the best since the responsiveness of that device has gone down recently.

Lesson learned #2: Sometimes tools do matter.

Next time, I’d like to try just using a pen and paper, which would also help to keeping to lesson #1 above to make things small. That said, it was due to my dissatisfaction with the map that I tried editing it in the native photo editing application on my computer. The editing itself wasn’t very difficult, and also made me curious about map making software.

The end result for both map and text rank as sort of “meh” to me. The map relies on tropes than a sense of place, which I suppose is normal considering that I’m brand-new to the skill of map making; the text is shallow without a real understanding of character and place, which is also understandable considering that my focus was on figuring out the broad idea of how map and text can relate.

All in all, it’s a light experiment that has pointed me into several other directions for exploration, both in learning about map making and a possible “partnership” between map and text. For example, maps as perspective/narrator, text within maps – labels, descriptions, etc.

Lesson learned #3: Sometimes you need to write a piece to get to the next one.

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