One of the many things that can help a Writer further develop and structure their piece of fiction, is a map.
Rarely though, is it that an Author pays attention to the thoughts that cross their mind- or make rational connections between pre-established links.
The layout of your physical world, will have supreme control over Human Settlements, Flora and Fauna, and on itself.
A well-designed map will clearly show if the conditions you have chosen will be able to support a civilisation, and will impact on the characters you create.
Not only in a physical sense, but also on the cultures of the people who live amongst such an environment. Religions, Foods, Clothing, Art, Music, Beliefs, Superstitions- everything will reflect the needs and gifts that the environment provides.
For example; Societies which dwell, and rely upon large bodies of water are extremely likely to rely on Sea-foods for their livelihoods, and draw inspiration from the sea for their stories, myths and religious figures.
Think about it this way:
Soil Fertility will determine whether crops are able to be grown in masses. There are many ways to establish this, such as the way soil fertility is fed by flooding seasons (such as witnessed in Egypt, in the form of the Nile River).
In societies where crops are more able to be grown, a larger population is likely to spring up. In societies where crops are more ale to be grown, it is more likely that Armies are able to be massed and fed. Where Armies are amassed, it is more likely that wars and colonisation is likely to take place.
It isn’t just the availability of water that helps to complete a functional world; Metal is another layer.
Places which are abundant in metals are likely to use it more freely- in forms of armour, thicker, broader swords- while places without easy access to it, tend to use metal only when needed- such as thinner and sharper blades.
It is also worth noting that the widespread, techniques and advance-ness of metallurgy is an incredible part of a societies structure.
If you already have a draft of a map, (and a map is always a draft until in print), glance over it and see if your imagery could support the words of it’s story.
Can your land support a population of the size you have indicated?
What kinds of food are available through certain areas? Can these supplies support a …….. population?
Can these foods provide a well-rounded diet, or will they cause health problems?
Short grasses, small brittle bushes that are high in essential oils are more likely in seasonal flat lands, and dry environments. Research the differing types of plants which grow in different temperatures to understand growth patterns and tolerances.
What kinds of industry and trade take place between certain populations? Are the items for trade readily available in …….? Why would this item interest the other party?
Look at your natural Geography; Where are the Rivers, Mountains, Caves, Bores, Lakes e.c.t. What impacts do they have on the populations around them?
Towns often appear along waterways, or along Trade Routes. However, as soon as these waterways and Trade Routes vanish, the people tends to follow- even to the point of abandoning their town.
How have populations impacted these features? Are they natural, modified, artificial? Always have a reason for these features.