I’ve written about how an outline can serve as a great tool, a sort of map, to guide you on your course as you write. Another kind of map, one closer to its namesake, is a sketch (or much more detailed drawing, if you need it) of the area in which your story takes place. Depending on how much your character(s) move(s) about in the town/castle/prison/whatever, a sketch of the layout will help considerably in keeping your story consistent.
Will the sun be in the character’s eyes when walking out the door? Where will the shadows be in this scene (will there be shadows)? Is the destination to the left or right (or north or south, etc)? Is the building visible to the character from here? If there is a chase scene, where can the character run to/through? A sketch also helps keep things consistent between books, if you’re writing a series (as I am).
Early in writing Dragonlinked, I realized that a sketch of Caer Baronel’s layout would be required. There were just too many locations in the Caer to keep straight in my head and the characters did a lot of walking around. That sketch has served me well all through the three books I’ve written so far. The sketch isn’t meant to be exact; it merely serves as a handy reference to where things are in relation to each other.
I’m adding the sketch to the Library (accessible from the menu at the top of the blog) along with a sketch of the dragon stable layout. The remains of erased pencil (which became much more visible when I increased the contrast to make the fainter lines visible) let you see where I changed the layout of the Caer and changed some of the buildings a bit. The Woodworking building used to be two separate buildings, part of one of which was the armory, and the Water Hall used to be called (only briefly) the Pump House, for instance. Also, vegetable gardens used to be nearby, before I decided that an entire farm would better serve a community as large as the Caer and moved all that off to Baronel Farm ten miles or so east. You also get to see the sheer awesomeness of my chicken-scratch handwriting! I thought some readers might get a kick out of seeing these.