Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Vampire Assaults With Google Maps

I recently had to go back and write a new chapter one for The Blood of Mars. This made the previous chapter two into chapter three, while the previous chapter three melted into the new chapter two. Confused? Yeah. Sometimes I just have to go get a PB&J and hope I got it right.

So I'm making the 'clickity-klack,' typing away, when I realize I need to know my exact location in Belfast, Ireland. Locals get snippy if you don't get your facts right, so in order to stay true to the emerald isle, I whip open Google maps and find the streets I need. But you know what's cool?

Scene for the Vampire Assault at Chichester and Seymour
Google Maps has a feature called Street View. Some of you more experienced users already know this (and to tell the truth I've seen it before too), but I was looking for street names and accidentally zoomed in one time too many.

Suddenly I was on the corner of Chichester and Seymour streets in Belfast. By looking around and moving up and down the street, I discovered the perfect place for a scene in my story.

The sixteen year old protagonist, walking along Chichester to his first blood donation, crosses Seymour street and sees a newborn vamp, down by the street light, taking a bite of the local flavor. Can you see it? I could! For the next two hours I was totally submerged in the streets of Belfast.

When I looked up at the clock afterwards, I was blown away at the time. True, I'd managed to crank out almost eight pages. But the writing just flowed through me. All because I could experience a city that I've never seen.

At Dave Farland's Writers Death Camp, I talked with Dave about how writers today really don't have to have the reference library that they did twenty to thirty years ago. The internet has made so much information available online, that, for instance, you don't have to pay $200 for a comprehensive world atlas.

So, I got thinking about all the sites on the internet that writers have today that they didn't have twenty years ago. Here's a sampling of some of my favorites.

Atlas Obscura - A Compendium of the World's Wonders, Curiosities and Esoterica
Forensics4Fiction - Great Forensics for a Writer
Google Maps - World Maps
Dictionary.Com - Great Online Dictionary & Thesaurus
Urban Dictionary - Random Information and Slang
Behind the Name - Information on Names
Baby Names - Information on Names
Google Translate - Online Translator
Write or Die - Writing Productivity Motivator (For online use or purchase)
Funny Mean Names - Mean Name Generator

As with most things online, some of these sites should be taken with a grain of salt. Remember, it never hurts to check your sources.

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