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Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Google Earth and the writer by Paty Jager

Not Arizona.
This is our property in eastern OR.
When I came up with the idea for the third book in my Isabella Mumphrey Adventures, I was sure it would be the easiest book to write. It's the only story written in the United States, which would make it easier.

The first book in the Guatemalan jungle required research, but once she left the Flores Airport and entered the jungle, I only had to know where she was in relation to the rivers they used to get into the jungle. Terrain and all that could be fudged because who really can see the exact terrain in a jungle.

The second book was in Mexico City and a museum. Both of which I could find maps and tours and use You Tube to navigate and get the feel and lay of the land.

Google Earth shot of the area of my story.
This third book is set in southern Arizona on the Tohono O'odham reservation and the Cabeza Prieta Wildlife Refuge.  I've gathered half a dozen maps of each area and of course they don't all have things marked exactly the same. I wanted to see what kind of country some roads crossed and see what kind of terrain my heroine needs to cross to get to her destination. Because I wanted a bird's-eye-view and one from the ground, I used Google Earth to "walk" my character's path.

My problem...It is taking me twice as long to write by trying to stay so stuck to the  correct boulder, pebble and bush. To get this book written in the space of time I have left before deadline, I've decided that no one is going to read the book and walk the same path she does, so I don't need to know exact details. Once I got that notion set in my mind, I've been getting closer to my word goals each day.

As a reader, does it matter to you if you just get a feel for the setting and the obstacles that challenge the character or do you want to be able to walk the character's path exactly?

Theme for Secrets of a Hopi Blue Star: The Truth Can Be Ugly

www.patyjager.net
www.patyjager.blogspot.com

8 comments:

  1. Great post, I always wondered how I'd managed to visualise any character's lives outside of places I know. Google earth is a great idea!

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    1. A Writers Life, Google Earth does work well if it's up to date. Thanks for stopping in.

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  2. The setting is important only as it relates to the story. If you need a cave to hide in, who is going to know if there is a cave where you have your characters at any given time? The google map is a great tool. Good blog!

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    1. Karen, Thanks for stopping in! I am coming to that conclusion. Yes, need to mention the mountains and certain terrain but I'm making the rest up. After all, I have her there searching for a kiva(Hopi ceremonial site) that isn't there.

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  3. In this instance, I just need a feel for the area. If the setting were one of the characters, then it might be more important. I'm more concerned, though, with the characters' reaction to the area.

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    1. Hi Caroline, thanks! That's what I'm trying to do.

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  4. Isn't it amazing that we as authors have so many resources at our fingertips? Btw, the picture of your property in eastern Oregon looks the same as parts of Texas.

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    1. People don't realize a large part of Oregon is desert. Specifically the central and eastern area.

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