Friday, November 5, 2010

Using Google Maps to Plot a Story.

Lausanne through Google Maps. E-317 photo, shot from computer screen.

by Louis Bertrand Shalako


All Rights Reserved

In my story, 'Bushman,' appearing in Aurora Wolf's anthology, 'Aurora in the Dawn,' I was familiar with the geography as I had lived in the Oakville and Hamilton area years before. The problem was that I could not remember the name of one road in particular. So I used the free Google map feature that appears in any Google search page.

I followed Appleby Line north and discovered the road was Britannia, and then I checked things like Bushman's point of ambush, and got a feel for distances and terrain, etc. Other than forgetting Britannia Road, my memory seemed pretty good.

Now when I went to write, 'The New School,' which appears in my short story collection, 'The Paranoid Cat and other tales,' I had an idea for a YA fantasy that took place in a girl's school. I don't know why, but Switzerland immediately sprang to mind. Only one problem, I have never been to Switzerland, right? I picked Lausanne for one reason or another, and then I zoomed in and had a look.

And so in my story, the first scene involves the small family unit arriving at the school. They get stuck in a situation where they have to make about five right turns to get to where they are going. You see, Lausanne has lots of one-way streets in the downtown area. They also have a building just like the one described in my story. Right across the street--the track and field athletic facilities, just like it says in the story.

In that sense, the internet is a great equalizer for the aspiring writer on a budget.

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