A few years ago, I wrote this awesome blog post about picking your book’s location (in fact, that was one of the very first posts on Ginger & Books). Picking your book’s location is a major part of planning a book, but what happens when you pick an area you aren’t totally familiar with? My book series mostly takes place in Washington D.C., and while I’ve been there, it’s been a long time.
Well, let’s talk about creating a virtual book map.
This is actually something I just discovered last week, and y’all it has been so much fun to plan all these places out on a map. And today I want to show you how you can create your own map using Google Maps.
1. Know Your Locations First
Over the years I’ve used Evernote and the web clipper to clip apartment listings of where I want my characters to live. While it’s great to visually picture what a specific apartment looks like, I needed more context on where in each city these homes and businesses were. Just on a hunch, I ended up looking to see if I could make my own custom map with Google Maps, and I could!
2. Let’s Start Plotting
To start creating your own map, you’ll want to go to mymaps.google.com and create a map. It’ll open up a new window that looks like a plain Google Maps page. BUT, you can add your own spots. I started by looking up the addresses of the places I wanted my characters to live. Searching these addresses, Google gave me the location and I was able to save each location as a spot on my map. Once you’ve saved a spot, you can add your own information to the card. Here, I’ve added information about Cassie’s apartment, including when she lives in this apartment.Struggling with keeping all your locations set in your book? Try a book map. #writetip Click To Tweet
If I wanted to be really thorough, I could add the link to these apartment complexes in the details so I can pull up pictures and floor plans for reference.
3. Add Some Layers
The fourth book in my series takes place in London, which means I’m plotting spots across the world. In Your Map, you have the ability to add layers to it. I added a layer specifically for London areas because I’m a little OCD that way. Nothing has been plotted in London, but there will be soon!
4. Everything is Backed in Google Drive
If you’re worried about losing your map, it’s all backed up in your Google Drive account. Your map will be safe and you’ll be able to access it everywhere you can get to your drive. Portability is important to me, especially since I write a lot while I’m not at my desk.
Originally, I used an old-fashioned map to tag everything in Washington, D.C., but handling a map and trying to type at the same time? Not really practical. So the virtual map will allow me to look at it for reference and take up less space.
Now obviously, this isn’t going to work if you are writing a fantasy novel or something that isn’t contemporary, but it’s important to get all those details right when you can. Especially when you’re world-building for a series? All the details are going to catch you off guard if you don’t take good notes, which is why I was absolutely thrilled to find this option. So go on and create your own map and have some fun!