Thursday, February 25, 2010

"Writing" Tools

A couple of weeks ago, I was thinking over some of the details of an urban fantasy novel I'm tentatively calling Death Scene. It will be the second in my urban fantasy series set in Atlanta, only magic works.

As part of the story, one character has to convince another to leave Atlanta and go somewhere "nearby" that is still within reason for people to travel kind of on a whim, but has places remote enough that, say, a body will not be found for three years. You know, just for example. :)

And you don't want to call up the forestry service and say things like, "So, I'm an author doing research. If I were to want to dispose of, let's say, a body, where would it be least likely to be found for a few years? Hypothetically."

Or maybe you do. I have no idea. I've never done anything like that. :)

Google okay, but it's limited in what it can show, so I started casting about for some tool to help me figure out where to set the scene.

I thought, "I could buy a really detailed map of Georgia." So I searched on Google for "detailed map of Georgia."

And what came up was Google Earth.

Now, I've resisted the siren song for a long time and just never found a good enough reason to want to install it. But, that day I thought I'd give it a chance.

Oh. My. God. :)

I'm completely hooked. Not only did I find some nice "wilderness" areas in Georgia (which gives me an idea where to concentrate my research, even if I have to go there), but now when I hear a place mentioned, rather than just looking it up in Wikipedia, I call up Google Earth.

I was listening to a podcast just now where one of the hosts was talking about his volunteer work several years ago on the island of Fogo in Cape Verde. I've never heard of Cape Verde, much less Fogo.

So I whipped out Google Earth and typed in "Cape Verde" and it zoomed into an archipelago off the coast of Senegal in west Africa. Fogo turns out to be a little volcanic island dotted with settlements and a couple of larger cities. And I can zoom in on those population centers and see how they're laid out. Or I can click on YouTube videos or pictures people have uploaded that are tagged with GPS coordinates that put them in that area. It's...just astounding.

I highly recommend Google Earth.

For writing, that is. Yes, as a tool for writing. Not wasting time zooming in on places you've never been and never expect to see with your own eyes.

Research. Yeah, that's it. Research.

[Crossposted to my new site.]


pleiadeswoman said...

I work for the BLM, which is very similar to the Forest Service in a lot of ways. You might want to call them and ask about popular recreation sites within your chosen wilderness. Even out here on the West, just because it looks wild doesn't mean that a certain user group doesn't head out there every Saturday, for example. Just to verify. You can tell you're looking for opportunities for seclusion. We get that all the time.

Kaa said...

Thanks, I'll do that.

What does BLM stand for?

DDreslough said...

Bureau of Land Management. They're in charge of the huge swaths of public land all over the US.