|The World of Ark, art by Mark Taylor|
From Ravenlore Press
When I first met Mark Taylor he was known as "Markustay" on the Candlekeep Forums where he had already gained a reputation for making outstanding maps. I had no idea just how close we were to become though.
We first worked together on a "fan project" called the Isle of Ixinos...a little place near the Forgotten Realms nation of Turmish and the Vilhoun Reach. Mark blew me away with his ability to quickly adapt my horrid map sketches into something that looked authentically Forgotten Realms! If you want to explore what he's done in Forgotten Realms mapping, just look here and be amazed!
It wasn't too long really before we started talking about creating books together; well, mainly because we wanted more Forgotten Realms awesomeness to share with others. One thing led to another, and today we work together both at my own company of Ravenlore Press, but also on projects with The Ed Greenwood Group.
The thing I want to get across here is just how much more in depth my writing becomes because of Mark's amazing insight into making maps that seem to pull the strands of a great tapestry right out of my head and onto a map he can apparently create with great ease! Again, take a look at some of his stuff at DeviantArt...it is amazing. Writing just becomes all that much more interesting when you have an amazing cartographer to work with.
It is one thing to draw a sketch map and then write a story...the entire thing changes when you can see/feel the world you are writing about. I encourage EVERY writer to work with someone; whether on sketch work for characters, maps or just someone to bounce ideas off of. Yes, everyone includes me.
I was fortunate to become friends with Mark because the guy is just that good at brainstorming with. Not only can he create the worlds he imagines, but he can create the worlds I imagine too! That is no small accomplishment I have to say...it is a truly rare thing to find a collaborator who "gets" what I am thinking and can (as Mark does time and again) SEE what I am thinking too.
As for how others feel about Mark's work? Well, he is now the Art Director/Cartographer for one of Ed Greenwood's new world building projects. Currently called Pony Island Adventures; it is turning out to be an AMAZING setting for fantasy! One of the primary things making it so amazing: maps by Mark Taylor! I wish you could see these things! Simply amazing...and to be honest, better than anything I've seen from WotC or Pathfinder; I'll stake my career on his ability any day!
How does all this help my writing? I get to live in the worlds that Mark makes...I get to see for myself the world taking shape as I write about it.
If you don't work with a map making genius, it doesn't mean that you can't be your own map maker. Sketch your world out as you write. Draw a sketch of a house you are writing about, make the floor plan even. Are you writing about a bank robbery? Then draw the bank...put the map on the wall in front of you so that you can see in your mind's eye how the characters move through their world that you are creating with your words.
Don't be afraid of your drawings ever...if they are anything like mine you don't want anyone else to see them; but they are for you. Going further, make your world more real by MAKING your world. I have sketches of castles on my wall, a sketch of a bookshelf lined with tomes belonging to a wizard, a sketch of the study the wizard has that shelf in...anything that you imagine, put it down so that it is there and done in front of you; so that when you write, you write about a world that really exists.
Enough rambling from me...time for a cigar and a glass of whiskey before I go to bed; my little demon is trying to get out because I haven't given him sacrifice of smoke and spirits. Cheers!