When you’re writing about a (real world) setting that you’ve never been to..

A supportive board for writers at all levels to discuss writing topics, debate burning issues related to publishing, To publicise your novel. And to seek support of every kind in helping you to become a better writer.

Post by Guest »

Hello. Curious if anyone knows any tips, tricks, or resources to help for when you’re writing about a (real world) setting that you’ve never been to? In example, there are a majority of scenes in my novel that take place in San Francisco (albeit – a future version, with which I can take some liberties), which I’ve only barely visited in my youth, as well as scenes in Denver and Baton Rouge, which I’ve never visited.

Street View in Google Maps has been a great help, as well as general googling, but I wonder if others have hit upon ways to accurately represent a place short the ability to go there and walk around?

Post by Sandy »

got to trip advisor and put the city in and read the comments from people who have been there.

Post by Douglas »

I find the culture and the people are more important than the geography. For instance, I wanted to write about the country music songwriting community, having interviewed hundreds of country musicians over the years (for magazine articles), so I knew the culture and how they speak, but I'd never been to Nashville. But in the book, almost all the scenes were indoors. There was a kind of establishing scene outside the Grand Ole Opry (based on a photo) but after that it was all in a house, a bar, a studio or the back of a limo. I didn't need to know how you get from East Nashville to Lower Broadway, I'd just cut from a conversation in the house to one in the bar.

Post by Waltraud »

I think, Google Street View is a great help! I am from Germany and was in San Francisco just once, what I remember most are the steep streets 😃 I took a lot of pictures. Besides that, you could try to read travel diaries or listen to podcasts or radiostations to get an insight on traffic, festivities or the overall mood. Then, just write as you imagine it to be, as many of your reader might also not have been there. Maybe you could then, after writing, find beta readers who know the city, and they might have some small details to add to the descriptions.

I guess, a lot of San Francisco's "fame" comes from the imagination of people and TV series (you could watch them too).

So it might be really far fetched, but to get the overall feeling, any American bigger city would do. In addition, of course the plot of the novel has to be really good, so the city is just a nice background to it.

Post by Clark »

Google street view, or if you have VR, there are apps which allow you to 'visit' lots of places. Watch shows and read books set in SF.

Post by William »

Ask around for people that live there-I grew up in Denver, for example, – and ask them questions. Look up YouTube videos taken from the street. Do research..

Post by Michael »

In my opinion it depends how important the setting is to the story. If it's just a backdrop I think googling and YouTube videos and books about San Francisco ought to do it.

But if the setting is almost like a character in the story, it seems to me like you might want to visit the place.

Anyway I live in San Francisco. I don't feel exactly plugged in these days. But you can certainly come up with specific questions and ask people who live here.
Post Reply
  • Similar Topics
    Last post