Brinda Berry · writing advice

Google Maps for the Writer

*Reprinted blog post from http://www.brindaberry.com , 12/26/2011

In my current manuscript, I have a scene where the hero and heroine are walking from the Mission District to Chinatown in San Francisco. I was a tourist there quite a few years back, and I feel comfortable writing a scene where my characters are also seeing it from tourists’ eyes. The problem is my memory. I couldn’t remember how long it took to walk to places. So, I used Google maps.

When you access maps.google.com, you can get driving directions. I do this all the time when I’m planning to drive somewhere and want to know the driving distance. You may not realize that you can also get walking directions which are very different. Then you will know the estimated time involved and if the route is different from a driving one. You’ll be directed to sidewalks rather than freeways.

Several years ago, my husband and I traveled to New Orleans. We attended JazzFest and later that night, we walked around the area near our hotel. I used my iPhone to give us walking directions where we wouldn’t get lost. I forgot to change the mode from walking. The next day, we were driving home. I kept telling my husband the directions that made NO sense to him and he was very frustrated with me (<–this is an understatement). I then noticed that I had my Google maps app on “walking mode” and got a good laugh out of it. At least, I was laughing.

See the screenshot below to see my example of the walking mode directions in San Francisco, CA between these two neighborhoods.  I’ve also added arrows and boxes to point out things. After examining the route and looking at the walking time of 58 minutes, I’m now considering one choice they give me to cut the travel time in half by using pubic transportation at 27 minutes. My third choice is to use a cab at 12 minutes travel time.I’ve also recorded a video to show you the amount of detail you can get at street level. <-click to watch. When watching the video, make sure to use the scroll bar for player buttons at the bottom of the screen. Hope this is something useful to you in your virtual and actual travels.

Google Maps
Google Maps
BIO: Brinda lives in the southern US with her family and two spunky cairn terriers. She’s terribly fond of chocolate, coffee, and books that take her away from reality.
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Whisper of Memory Book Trailer: http://youtu.be/PbZ_cjGsjA8
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