From Sarah, With Joy

*Poet * Author * Wanderluster*

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Top 3 Resources for Setting

The age of the internet makes it all the easier to set a novel in a place you've never been. There are enough resources out there that you can flesh out the details and make it real. Not only that, but when you're low on ideas and need that extra spark, the internet can help you there as well. So here are my three favorite tools that I use when I'm working on setting.

1. Google Maps: So this is kind of an obvious one, but maybe its the most useful. You can get a close up picture of anywhere in the world, and in many places Street View lets you see as if you were standing right there on the road. The novel I'm working on is a bit of a road-trip novel, and it has been really helpful to be able to use Google Maps to sort of chart the trip and take it with my characters, and see exactly what they're seeing all along the way.

2. Pinterest: There are so, so many ways to use Pinterest. As a collection place for images, it is a natural resource for not just setting, but characters and any other creatively inspiring images you want to keep track of. But for setting specifically, you can collect images of the specific place you're using in your novel, or, how I like to do it, make a general "setting" board and collect intriguing images of places you might want to use later on. Here's my setting board to maybe get you started. Any of these places seem especially interesting to you?

3. Atlas Obscura: This is one of my favorite things on the internet. I could seriously sit for hours clicking through the "random place" button, over and over, seeing how many weird and interesting places there are all over the globe. Maybe your story isn't as crazy as some of these places, or maybe you don't want to set an entire novel in somewhere like the real life Flinstones Bedrock City, but it could sure add some yabba dabba doo! Okay, sorry, that was dumb :)

Anyway, those are the places I like to play when I'm trying to flesh out the setting for my novel. Do you guys use these too? What other resources do you like to use for helping with setting?

Sarah Allen


  1. Never heard of Atlas Obscura, but will check it out. And yes, Google Maps/Streetview is great. I have a lot of students who love writing and there was one who was writing a martial arts thriller set in New York(he lives in Melbourne, Australia, but doesn't let that stop him). Every so often, he would go to Google Maps to check places in New York City and work out if a chase from this bit to that was possible and how long it would take. Nice!

  2. I love using Google Maps for research. And like Sue I haven't heard of Atlas Obscura!

  3. Thank you for sharing these. I knew about Google Map.

    Hugs and chocolate,

  4. I just started a Pinterest account with my Julie Luek name-- still trying to define it a bit. Mostly, I get caught up looking at how much I can make with pallets! ;)

  5. Atlas Obscura, here I come. It sounds like a blast.

  6. I've never heard of Atlas Obscura. I'm definitely going to have to check that out. I love Google Earth for settings as well. :-)

    Also, I've nominated you for the Liebster Award. ;-) Stop by my blog for more info.

  7. Sadly, most of my stories & novel have only basic research applied to them (usually about objects, such as driving a motorcycle, or religion), and for settings, they're pretty much non-descript, with only a flavoring of my home state used as a basic anchor to make it stand out.


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