Google Street View and Novel Settings

I often mindlessly search Google Street View during conference calls – not the ones where I have to weigh into the conversation, but the ones where I just have to listen in to a presentation. while I hear the presentation. My staff knows this little hobby of mine and usually asks me where I’m going that day. It’s like taking a little trip to somewhere you may or may not have been before. Favorite vacation spots, national monuments, houses you used to live in, foreign destinations. I consider it to be a great resource for “seeing” the world.

What started out as a bit of a guilty pleasure, however, I realized could be an outstanding tool for novel settings. Sure, there’s much more to creating a setting than just the view and what the buildings look like, but since I’ve made the connection it’s been a huge help. Even to sharpen the details of a location down to one-way streets and what landmarks you can see from your vantage point. As I was writing my current novel, my main character spends a night in a hotel in San Francisco. At one point he is looking wistfully out the window at the Bay. As I wrote the scene, I realized that the hotel where he was staying needed to actually have a view of the Bay. Despite the fact that I’ve visited San Francisco, for the actual, up-to-date perspective Street View was invaluable.

The Street View above actually plays a pivotal role in my novel, WILTON’S GOLD. While I’ve been to Times Square in New York City many times, having access to the intersection from my office was a big help.

Have you ever “traveled” via Google Street View? Where do you like to go?