characters / Setting / tech tips for writers / writers resources

Tech Tip for Writers #65: Google Street View

Tech Tips for Writers is an (almost) weekly post on overcoming Tech Dread. I’ll cover issues that friends, both real-time and virtual, have shared. Feel free to post a comment about a question you have. I’ll cover it in a future Tip.

Q: I can’t find enough detail about a particular area of the world my character visits. Any suggestions?

A: Try Google Street View. It’s a wonderful way to explore settings for your writing Here’s how to use it:

  • First, you must have Google Earth. It’s a free download and I’ve never had problems with the install. Take a minute to do that. I’ll wait.
  • Done? Good. That was fast. Here’s what you do next:



When I went to visit the house my character was living in, I found out I had to rework several important pieces of the story. I had her walking to work, not realizing how crowded both streets and sidewalks were with traffic. She’d have to be a bit more careful with the cup of coffee, briefcase, and bowl of oatmeal she was juggling as she traveled. And, where I had her passing generic-sorts of stores (Starbucks, local grocery), umm, there were problems. The ones I mentioned weren’t there, and I’d failed to mention a few eclectic ethnic stores that could provide the essential detail that makes a setting come to life.

I edited.

A note: Google Street View even covers hiking trails.

For more information, click here.

Questions you want answered? Email me at and I’ll answer it within the next thirty days.

Jacqui Murray is the editor of a technology curriculum for K-sixth grade, creator of two technology training books for middle school and four ebooks on technology in education. She is the author of Building a Midshipman, the story of her daughter’s journey from high school to United States Naval Academy. She is webmaster for six blogs, an Amazon Vine Voice book reviewer, a columnist for, Editorial Review Board member for Journal for Computing Teachers, Cisco guest blog, IMS tech expert, and a bi-weekly contributor to Write Anything. Currently, she’s editing a thriller for her agent that should be out to publishers this summer. Contact Jacqui at her writing office or her tech lab, Ask a Tech Teacher.

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7 thoughts on “Tech Tip for Writers #65: Google Street View

  1. Pingback: Use Photos to Develop Your Novel | WordDreams...

  2. Pingback: Use Photos to Develop Your Novel « Jacqui Murray

  3. Pingback: Writer’s Tip #76: Use a Photo to Develop Characters, Setting | WordDreams...

  4. Jacqui,
    I’ve used street-view before, but not in my writing. This morning I thought I’d try it out on a story I’m contemplating that is set in a bar I once visited in Tucson. Since I live 1200 miles away, street-view was useful. Yes, I did get some details that I can use in my story; I’m thankful for your advice. Additionally, I got some motivation to start the story and to enter into the scene. What a research tool!


    • I felt the same way the first time I used it. And when I set my students loose on it–they can spend the entire class! The White House has a ‘street view’ walk-through that’s amazing. You’ll think you’re there. You should wow your kids with it. Just open Google Earth, type White House and zoom in until it tosses you inside.


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