Monday Musings: “I felt like I was there!”

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by Kathleen Valentine

Those words are music to this writer’s ears. Nothing makes me happier than when a reader tells me that they were so engrossed in one of my stories that they felt like they were right there. I love creating a sense of place in my stories and I work hard at it. I’ve also found some useful tools. Among these are:

Web Cams

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I love web cams, especially web cams of places that I write about. At the moment I am working on a new Halcyon Beach Chronicle which is set in the off-season of a rather run-down beach town. I have discovered a variety of web cams looking out on beaches along the New England coast and, often when I am writing, I keep one open on my desktop to keep me in the place I am writing about. This is especially helpful if you happen to be in the same season about which you are writing. I think if I can watch the waves breaking on the shore, the rain or the sun or the fog while I write, it must surely creep into my writing.

Pinterest

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Creating image galleries on Pinterest and load them up with pictures related to my work in progress is both helpful and fun. Sometimes I go out and take the pictures myself like the photos in this gallery for Halcyon Beach.

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Sometimes I scavenge the web for pictures that relate to a story I’m working on. I’m a very visual person (college art major) and galleries like this one, created for The Crazy Old Lady’s Secret, help keep me focused.

Google Maps and Google Street View

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Nothing comes in handier for me than Google Maps, especially Earth View, and Google Street View. I have searched remote areas for a place to hide a dog-fight, found peculiar geographic anomalies that I can work into stories, and walked down streets to check on the architecture.

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Recently I was writing about the Seaman’s Bethel in New Bedford. It’s been quite a few years since I last visited that town but with the help of Google Street View I was able to walk down Johnny Cake Hill, stop in front of the Bethel, make sure I remembered its setting, and even make note of the fire plug in front of it.

The Internet is a rich and useful place for writers. By making use of what it has to offer we can enhance our writing and build authenticity that gives readers an experience of having been there and felt it for themselves.

Thanks for reading.

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