Writing Inspiration from Google Maps

Google Maps Street View is one of my favorite tools as a writer.  When I set out to write Expecting Happiness, I first asked myself what kind of book I was in the mood to read.  My answer, something involving a travel adventure, so I set to work creating characters that wanted to leave behind their boring lives and hit the open road, (real stretch of the imagination, right?).  Of course, I ended up taking them places I had been before, because writing about places I had never actually seen felt daunting.

However, I quickly realized that my fuzzy memories left holes in the pictures of these destinations, and the characters’ personalities also started to take them places within these cities that I never visited.  My solution?  Google Maps Street View.  Now, I do not pretend to be the first writer with this clever idea, but it is one of my favorite tricks to help me understand the layout of a city and visualize its scenery.  If you haven’t checked it out before, you should give it a shot.  You never know what sort of inspiration you’ll find.

My male protagonist wanted to run in Paris, but what would he see?  What parks on the list of places to jog in Paris might he visit?

I needed a place for my female protagonist’s cousin to live in Nuremberg.  What do the suburbs a couple of stops past the Hitler rally grounds look like?

Hmm, I wonder if I could find my dorm room while studying abroad in Burgos, Spain… Okay, this trick also gets me sidetracked.

Alright, if my female protagonist wanted to walk to a school in the Sarrià-St. Gervasi neighborhood of Barcelona, what would she see along the way?

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6 thoughts on “Writing Inspiration from Google Maps

  1. thebaffledo0queen0ocomposing says:

    So cool! I have never thought of this! I guess it won’t help me much with the novel I’m writing right now (it’s set in 1848), but I will definitely use this tool in the future.

    • oliviaobryon says:

      Yes, that would be a bit trickier! How cool if a map like that existed though… I really admire writers willing to put in the work to write historical fiction 🙂

  2. I love to do this when I’m trying to describe a place I’ve never visited. Italy, Spain, Fiji. I strolled around Paris the other day. Google Maps is an amazing tool.

    • oliviaobryon says:

      Agreed, it’s amazing! Definitely helps me write about places I haven’t been, too. Used it to take a walk around Vegas, which I’ve never been compelled to visit. Actually kind of made me want to go. So cool!

  3. kingmidget says:

    Never thought about this. It’s a great idea.

  4. Street View has been very helpful whenever I want to make a road scene.

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