Monday, August 17, 2015

8 Steps to Visiting Your Novel's Setting Without Leaving Home

Sometimes there's a story in our hearts that won't die, a story that takes place thousands of miles from home, a place we might never have been, and likely will ever be. My current WIP is set in Vancouver BC, the city London, and the Cotswolds in United Kingdom. I've never been to the Cotswolds, but that won't stop me from writing about it.

First thing I'll do:

1.  Open up a search window.
2.  Type GET DIRECTIONS 
3.  Choose a link.  (I like GOOGLE MAPS)



4. Type COTSWOLD DISTRICT, UK. 




5.  See PHOTOS and STREET VIEW in the frames above? The PHOTOS will help with a sense of the place, but for a closer look, I'll click STREET VIEW. 




6.  Now I have the option of either using the arrows to do a virtual drive down this street in front of me, or I can use one of the other photos that best depicts the setting I need for my story. And that would be a pub with public parking and lots of beautiful shrubs, flowers... like the one below:


7.  I can also go back to the origin map, click on the DIRECTIONS icon:





8.  Type London, UK below Cotswolds. And it shows me 1 of 2 routes back into London. 





If I wanted to take a virtual trip, I'd start at the beginning, go back to STREET VIEW and drive the route virtually. But that requires more instructions and is best left for another post.  The point is, yes, do write about what you know, but don't let a little thing like "I've never been there!" stop you from writing vivid descriptions.                 





36 comments:

Blogoratti said...

Wonderful tip, thanks for sharing!

Christine Rains said...

That is so much fun! I do that too. I did live in Vancouver. Gorgeous place to live.

Susan Gourley/Kelley said...

I do love Google Maps. I wonder how we ever got along without it. I would definitely use it if I wrote contemporary.

Pat Hatt said...

haha I've done that a time or two. So much cheaper than going there.

PhilipH said...

Something we couldn't do until relatively lately.

I think you get a fair idea of the area from Google/Maps but it's a lot better when you can actually chat with a few 'locals'. Every area has its own flavour, so to speak. Example: you call it dish-soap; we call it 'washing-up liquid'. Your term is short and to the point, ours is a lot longer and doesn't say it's for dishes. Don't know why we say 'washing-up' either. It's just what we say.

Hope your visit is enjoyable.

James Pailly said...

I've actually done this for some of my science fiction stories. Google Earth includes not only a complete map of Earth but also maps of the Moon and Mars. You can get a good feel for what it would be like to travel across those very alien landscapes that way.

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

Google Earth and street views - things we didn't have just ten years ago.

Robert Bennett said...

First and foremost, awesome recommendations. I never would have thought about this before. However, doesn't quite help my tendency for writing about fictional worlds. XD

J Q Rose said...

What a brilliant idea! I would never thought of this for describing locations for my book. We did use the street view when we planned a trip to Pasadena, CA for the Rose Parade and discovered our hotel was across the street from the rental car place, as well as a store to buy shampoo, aerosol shaving cream, etc that are not allowed on airplanes.Thanks for a helpful tip.

Anne R. Allen said...

I love Google Maps! I used to have to search books and libraries or actually travel to a place to write about it. Now it's all a click away.

It's also useful for finding out how long it takes to get from one place to another.

Reading local newspapers online is another great way to get the flavor of a place.

Yolanda Renee said...

Use it all the time. A great tool, and fun too! But oh so much more fun to actually take the trip, but now a wonderful substitute when you can't.

S.P. Bowers said...

I've never thought of using google maps. Of course I write fantasy, but still, it could be very useful to help get a visual as I plan and plot.

cleemckenzie said...

Aren't we lucky to have these tools! Great way to be there without all that travel time. I had an author who was writing about San Francisco ask if I'd read her manuscript to verify what she's found using Google. Her descriptions were pretty accurate, but I was able to give her a couple of ideas to add more detail to the setting. Still she did her homework on Google very well.

Medeia Sharif said...

I love using maps and street views, both personally to jog my memory and for my writing to get ideas for setting.

Jennifer Lane said...

Wow, what a great idea! Thank you.

Lexa Cain said...

These are great tips! I love things like Mapquest and Google Earth. They've helped so much in my research, since I usually write about places I haven't been. Thank you, Joylene!

Michelle Wallace said...

Oh my word.
The world IS shrinking!
How clever is this?
Thank you for sharing, Joylene!

rolandclarke.com said...

Use Google Maps all the time for this, and also for working out routes, driving times, and much more. I'm also using it at the moment for my novel set in the area where I live. Amazing sometimes what extra bits you can find or get inspired to create.

Robyn Campbell said...

Excellent tip. Thank you for sharing. I write contemporary and need this. So glad Michelle reminded me to stop by.

Joylene Nowell Butler said...

Thanks, everyone!

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

Hi Joylene - google maps are useful aren't they ... I don't use them that often: obviously you didn't get to the Cotswolds on your recent trip ... but now you could write a setting based in Cornwall ...

Lots of ideas for us all out there .. the tools are amazing - cheers Hilary

Sherry Ellis said...

Great tips! I also like to find photos on Google of the settings of my books.

Fundy Blue said...

A wonderful step by step into the heart of a setting. You laid it out beautifully, Jolene. I'm forever checking out details on Google Maps for my writing and other things. Because some of my settings are remote, I also search photo sites like Flickr and extraterrestrial sites like the Lunar & Planetary Laboratory at the University of Arizona. Happy writing!

Tyrean Martinson said...

Oh, thank you!!! I think the travel section at the library is great for a bit of a cultural crash and sometimes the videos they have on travel at the library are good, too, but I hadn't thought of using Google maps this way. Thank you!

Joylene Nowell Butler said...

You guys are great. Thanks!

Karen Lange said...

Thanks for the tips, Joylene! I hadn't thought about using this for research, but wow, what a great idea. Love the scenery - I'm ready to go visit. :)

Denise Covey said...

Great tips Joylene. It's often possible to take a trip inside buildings etc if you want to include them. I've walked through the corridors of the police department on Nantucket. Awesome. :-)

Penny the Jack Russell dog and modest internet superstar! said...

Hi human, Joylene,

How's it goin', eh and arf!

It's always fun to go on a virtual tour. Your suggestions are pawesome. Ever wonder why so many humans when they use those virtual maps, check out their own place first? Funny, you'd of reckon they already knew what their place looked like!

Pawsitive wishes and doggy kisses,

Penny xx

Toinette Thomas said...

Cool tip.

J.L. Campbell said...

The internet has certainly made the word a smaller place and Google ... just wow!

Lux G. said...

One of the million reasons to love Google. You don't have to leave home to see the places you want to. :)
Thanks for sharing!

Pat Garcia said...

Excellent post. The Internet has changed the world. It has become smaller.
Shalom,
Patricia

Joylene Nowell Butler said...

Thanks so much for visiting.

diedre Knight said...

Since I use this in relation to my day job I can't believe I never thought to use it in writing as well! Wonderful idea:-)

Susan Kane said...

I heading over to Ireland right now, this very minute, to see our old town!

DMS said...

What a fantastic idea! I don't use this and it is a great tool. Thanks for sharing!
~Jess