In this post, Writers Write explores how to research settings remotely. Remote location research is a writer’s key to omnipresence.
Location research can be effective, affordable, and possible from anywhere in the world. The internet is a hotbed of resources, and there are ways to get around if you know how to navigate a virtual world.
I’ve spent the past week in Arkansas: a watchful eye, like Sauron, but nicer.
Here’s how to make remote location research work.
How Writers Can Research Settings Remotely
1. Check The Map
If you’re going to be driving someplace, you should be aware of two things: where you’re starting, and where you’re going. setting research begins with the map of the area. Google Maps, Bing Maps, MapQuest, and Maps.me are four cornerstone navigation platforms.
Get a view of popular attractions, local bars, and get to know the streets. Advantages include street maps, three-dimensional views, and virtual walks through a place you’ve never been before.
It’s a lot like getting lost in person.
2. Tune In, Turn On
If you want to plug into the pulse of an area, almost any in the world, get to know their local media channels as one of your early steps. Media means local blogs, newspapers, television news channels, and public local radio.
For serious research, it can include a clock, the weather, and even the local traffic report. Ask questions, locals and tour guides are a big help to researchers.
Research done right means immersion for the researcher, whether you are living in a forest for a week and learning how to build a shelter, or whether you are just trying to find your way around the state or city.
3. See Local Sights
Every town has an atmosphere, a buzz, a pulse, and an underworld. Society is as alive as any cross-section of a beehive, and research means that you have to get up close to feel it.
What’s the best bar in your town, compared to the worst one?
What’s the best place to go for local music after midnight, and which part of town should you stay the heck away from when the sun goes down?
Get to know these important little truths about your research location.
Websites like TripAdvisor, Booking.com, and Hotels.com are one way into the gossip of any town. Learn what venues are great, and which ones you might rather set a thriller in.
It’s almost as good as being there.
4. View Video Content
Video content gets around, and it can get you around to see some of the sights almost as ‘in person’ as you are able to. Content creators are a potential goldmine of where-to-go (and what to avoid).
YouTube is a popular source, but there are also websites like TikTok and Facebook in the video and streaming world.
Look for tours, or connect with live influencers who can show you around. Interaction is also just as valuable as a research tool, and writers can break the third wall any time they want.
Video content also extends to live street camera streams, which can be legal to access dependant on your country and the one you are viewing. The EarthCam.com Network plugs you into thousands of public video feeds: use responsibly.
5. Call Around
There’s no replacement for people that you know and love in the area you’d like to virtually frequent. Get to know real people, living their lives in real-time like your characters might want to.Call around, find out what’s going on this week in the town that catches your attention. Look at newsletters, speak to people, call a venue and find out which bands are playing tonight just because you can.
Distance makes immersion hard, but it’s not impossible to get to know somewhere well enough to write about it.
6. View It With Virtual Reality
When I was younger, Virtual Reality (or VR) like we have today was still just a rumour. It was very much in development, though the pinnacle of computer-augmented visuals was arguably the sight of Forrest Gump in the White House. VR can cut down the distance that’s felt by a writer in the middle of their research. With the right platform and interface, everything from virtual tours to live three-dimensional gigs have become possible.
Now you can see Seether doing a cover of ‘Where Is My Mind’ and take a physical look around the stage. It might have other uses for the older kids.
The Oculus Quest, Microsoft HoloLens, and HTC Elite VR are just three options out of hundreds.
Have fun, and get to know your area up close.
The Last Word
Remote setting research gets a writer where they want to be, quicker and easier than a plane might have. We hope this post helps you to research your location from up close.
By Alex J. Coyne. Alex is a writer, proofreader, and regular card player. His features about cards, bridge, and card playing have appeared in Great Bridge Links, Gifts for Card Players, Bridge Canada Magazine, and Caribbean Compass. Get in touch at alexcoyneofficial.com.
If you enjoyed this, read other posts by Alex:
- The Use Of Real People As Characters In Fiction
- 8 Proofreading Tricks (That Save Valuable Time)
- 7 Techniques Of The Faustian Story
- Famous Rejection Letters & Their Lessons For Other Writers
- 8 Self-Published Books (That Went Big)
- The Art Of The Complaint Letter
- 6 Bits Of Writing Advice From Authors’ Letters
- The Art Of Writing Fiction With Fewer Settings
- 8 Statistics About The Writing Industry (You Should Know)
- 5 Incredible Story Beginnings & Endings