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Writing / Research Tip Tuesday #23

Time for another Tuesday Tip! Today's tip was sent in by Simon Kewin who you might recognize from around the blogosphere. To show your appreciation of the fabulous tip he's sent in (and it is fabulous), please visit his blog and website on your way out!

"Recently, I needed to take a walk down a certain road in Manchester (in the UK) for a scene in an urban fantasy novel I've been writing. It was a road I walked along often a number of years ago, but the problem was that I now live a hundred and fifty miles away. I could remember the sights and sounds of the street well enough, but I needed to check on a detail of the road's layout as it was significant to my plot. But conventional maps and satellite photographs didn't give me the three-dimensional, street-level perspective I needed.

"Then I remembered
Google Street View. As you may know, Google are in the process of photographing streets and roads the world over, stitching the pictures together so that you can visually "move" along them. Privacy concerns aside, this can be an invaluable resource for the writer. A series of pictures will never give you the sounds and smells of a particular place, but they can help trigger memories and they can help confirm that this or that road or building are as you recall them. Using Street View I found I was able to check on my facts without having to undertake a 300 mile round-trip."

This is such a great tip, Simon. And it ties in pretty darn good with Ann's tip from last week. Just like I never thought to peruse travel blogs for research information, I never thought to "travel" there via Google Street View. Amazing! I'll definitely be peeping in on some streets in the near future.


  1. This really is a good tip. Not only can it remind of you a once forgotten memory but it can aid in the imagination if you are wanted to put together a scene from a place you have never been.

  2. Fantastic tip! I can really use this in my wip, which has a couple scenes thousand miles from where I live and which I have no intention of traveling to. Thanks.

  3. Sweet! I'm writing now about a town in which I don't live. I can get some concrete details from this source. Thanks!

  4. This is a brilliant tip, especially for writers of fiction who want to research a street or a setting.
    You can also look at your own street where you live, with this feature, and as I recall it shows details like if a car is parked in your driveway, which is kind of eerie.

  5. I use Google Earth and Google Street View all the time because I live 100 miles from the city my stories take place in. Another nice feature is the ruler, which allows you to click on one spot then another to get the mileage in between. I also like the time-line feature that allows you to view all the previous satellite photos of a particular location.

  6. Yes! I love the street view. It helped me know where the casinos were in Las Vegas. Hey, it was for a book. I swear.

  7. Great idea! I find google maps, streetview, and google earth all incredibly useful for getting my bearings when I write with a place in mind.

  8. I've actually done this before! I'm always on the lookout for images that can help me make my story more real and Google rocks for this very thing.

  9. Sometimes when I get homesick for CA, I take a Google walk around my hometown.

  10. Thanks for the great tip. I never thought to do that, but it would be great for getting an authentic feel for a town you've never been to.

  11. Thanks for the comments, everyone! And thank you again, Simon, for the tip!

  12. I LOVE Google street view. The only problem is that it's a little addictive. I spent AGES looking up every place I've ever lived and other random things.

    Sad but true.