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? That was fast. Here’s what you do next:
When I went to visit the house my character lives 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 coffee, briefcase, and cup of oatmeal she was juggling as she traveled. And, where I had her passing generic-sorts of stores (Starbucks, local grocery), umm, 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. Here’s a picture of the street in front of my main character’s apartment:
And here’s the neighborhood of my other main character:
Additional items about Google Earth that might serve your story:
- The Time slider (on the top toolbar) will take you back about twenty-five years, to see what the geography looked like back then. This is great if your story is from that era
- It covers hiking trails, not just streets.
- It will take you inside a wide collection of buildings, such as the White House, allowing you to see whast your character faces when they enter.
Question? Add it below in comments. I’ll answer!
More Tech Tips for writers:
Jacqui Murray is the author of the popular Building a Midshipman, the story of her daughter’s journey from high school to United States Naval Academy. She is the author/editor of dozens of books on integrating tech into education, webmaster for six blogs, an Amazon Vine Voice book reviewer, adjunct professor of technology in education, a columnist for Examiner.com and TeachHUB, Editorial Review Board member for Journal for Computing Teachers, monthly contributor to Today’s Author and a freelance journalist on tech ed topics. You can find her book at her publisher’s website, Structured Learning.