Mapping the Story

Friday, May 15, 2020
One of the things I have to keep track of while writing a series is where all the landmarks I’ve described are. Sometimes this is simple. For my African Violet Club mysteries, I had a simple handdrawn map of the retirement home and its surroundings. That included the small town of Rainbow Ranch, but, as I said, that was a small town.

Whitby, a.k.a Shipwreck Point, is a little more difficult, and as I’ve started writing The Case of the Comely Clairvoyant, the third book in this series, it became imperative that I do better than a map sketched out by hand.

Now, since Whitby is based on an actual location, I was able to start with a Google map of that. But there were a lot of adjustments to make. Slight changes to the coastline, moving roads, then designating where the landmarks were.

Gimp is capable of doing the first part. I tried using Affinity Photo, which makes some tasks easier, but I’m more familiar with Gimp, and once I downloaded the latest version, I got started using various brushes and colors to modify the original map.

Then I had to figure out how I was going to show the hotels, the boardwalk, and the houses I’d mentioned in the books. Fortunately, I’d already purchased credits at, where I spent a lot of time searching for the appropriate icons. Most of these come in collections, which means you have one picture with multiple graphics in it. That required cutting out each icon I needed, then resizing them so they were appropriate for my map.

I also had to refresh my skills in Gimp to rotate text when I labeled the roads and buildings.
Making a map is a detailed, time-consuming task. I’m not quite done with the places I’ve invented yet. And as I write more books, I’ll have to update the map. But if you’re curious as to what Shipwreck Point looks like, here’s what I’ve got so far:

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A Clash of Kings
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