Google Earth: The Unsung Writer’s Tool: By Jason Kurt Easter
Updated: Dec 27, 2018
One of the greatest resources to writer’s, this side of the Information Age, is
unquestionably the Internet. While many shun it, others praise it - if used for what it was intended for, the sharing of information. You can search for just about anything, and with technology obtain information instantly whether you’re at home, walking in a field or sitting in a café. As wordsmiths, it is the most flexible resource to us at this point in time.
I am co-writing a novel, and one major tool that has assisted in clarifying the setting to measuring the distance between one house and another is Google Earth. This tool is an unsung hero and has been pivotal from planning the novel to visualising a characters PoV. I have even used it to search for terrain for other projects very much like a location scout would do in the pre-production stage of filmmaking and commercial photography.
In our story there are two main characters, each with their own PoV. Adding to this my co-writer, like me, lives overseas so it was fitting that Google Earth would show its true potential. I was writing a chapter for one of the characters one day when I hit a barrier. My character needed to get from A to B in a car and I wasn’t sure which way would be best, which was a common route, or even the topography of the area. If I thought that if I couldn’t visualise it, then nor could my reader.
Getting out to a different country is expensive, timely and costly, and with a day job extremely impractical. More so, the place where the novel is set was in itself, overseas. Then I thought more about Google Earth. I used it to search for routes that were available, calculated how long it would take from my A to B, and even drove down the motorway with a few clicks. I noticed a series of bushes and undergrowth where the antagonists could lay silent. I also spotted a house that would fit perfectly into our story, which finally emerged as a subplot. It really helped get over that topographic barrier, as well as creating ideas and opportunities for much more.
This tool, without question, helps provide the visual essence and reality that can help flesh out your project, as well as spark other ideas like our subplot. It is pivotal in helping to visualise terrain that can be used in fiction and non-fiction alike and, more importantly based on factual evidence, it can add the desired believability to your narrative that will ultimately transfer to your reader. If you don’t believe me, try it yourself. You won’t regret it.
J K Easter is a freelance writer and author of both fiction and non-fiction. He is a creative and communications professional, and has worked extensively in the health industry. His interests are wide-ranging from research and book collecting, to comics, UX design, coding, and photography. He is a natural history photographer (www.easternature.com), a Chartered Biologist with the Royal Society of Biology, and a Fellow of the Linnean Society of London.
His debut YA fantasy novel is The Grimoire, and he is currently working on a range of projects including a sequel to The Grimoire universe. For more information visit www.jkeaster.com.