This is just a side note I want to share with you guys and gals. It’s nothing of any major importance but I felt it interesting enough to want to write about.
Writing for me has always been difficult; creative writing I mean. I’m a big one for plots sticking true to real-life whenever possible and scenarios being realistic. It bugs me when I can tell an author has made up a scenario from whole cloth in his mind, yet the physical characteristics of the location don’t really make sense if you listen/read closely.Sometimes if you were to draw it out the way they described it, the building would have five sides. Huh? That’s not a two-story rectangular warehouse…
The hard part about the novel I’m working on is that it’s all based on traveling when the grid goes down. I want it to be as true to form as possible so if it was read by someone that lived in the area I’m writing about, they wouldn’t do what I’ve done so many times; sit back and say “This guy’s obviously never been here. It’s nothing like that!” Thank you Stephen King for forever screwing up Manteo in reader’s minds. I love Stephen King but it was a big let down to realize he obviously had no familiarity with the location when he included it in a novel.
So, here is a neat quick little insight into how Google has changed writing, for me at least.
Ten years ago
This was what an author had to work with ten years ago. I’ve got a Shell station on Highway 64. It looks like it’s on the end of a bridge. How many pumps does it have? What is it shaped like? What is the ingress and egress? How can I create this thing in my mind and then be sure to reference it correctly later on without forgetting something or accidentally putting the gas pumps on the right side of the building when they were on the left side before. That’s something good readers would catch and hang me for.
Five Years Ago
Somewhere around five or six years ago we got satellite mapping, though it used to be updated every few years. In recent years it seems to be almost annually or sometimes twice per year. This is light years ahead though from what you used to have to work with. I can see the marina, count how many lanes the road has, know if it has a passing lane or not, see the placement of the pumps, and basically have real terrain features.
Today it’s totally different, and from a wanna-be-writer’s standpoint, it’s amazing what we can do. If I had to plan an ambush with my characters I can see there is a ditch bank with high grasses that’s usable. I can also see the grass on the right side is well maintained. No option to come up that way and sneak across the lawn. There are five windows on the east-south-east end of the building. The walls are concrete block. I could have characers setup a defensive perimeter and monitor from the windows… they’re darkly tinted. There are two gas pumps, not four or eight. That might be good to know. I can see street lighting on a pole nearest the Shell sign, meaning the parking lot is lit at night. There is a radio antenna tower out back. Hmm, that sounds like a fun plot device I’d have never thought of before. Maybe I could sneak up that left side in the water, approach from the docks, then later steal a boat to escape. If I did, I know they tend to have inboard fishing boats docked there, not outboards and not cigarette boats. The road is two lane with a twelve foot-shoulder on the right that I could use if I had a vehicle and needed to get around a stalled car. There’s gravel on the left wide enough for a car to park .Hmm.
All the things I can do while remaining one-hundred-percent true to the location I’m writing about.
It’s just cool…
Just thought I’d share.
Have a good day y’all.