image of an island

Day 24 of my self imposed writing challenge and my work in progress, The Brittle Sea, stands at 69k words. I’ve written over 16k words in 24 days and I’m still on track to reach my target.

What seemed like years ago, and was actually about thirty years ago, I had an idea for a story and sat at my trusty portable typewriter and began writing. A few hundred words in and I was about to describe a house on a riverbank in a town in Suffolk, England. Only problem was I had never been to this town and had no idea what the area looked like, never mind what the river was like, or indeed if there was a river there. Yes, I could have described a make-believe house based on whatever type of house I chose to write about. But the surrounding area was a mystery. So I based it in an area of the River Soar in Leicestershire where my uncle lived, many, many miles from Suffolk. This lack of knowledge of an area I felt was essential to my story bugged me for a long time. But not any more.

In my current work in progress my protagonist, merchant marine Captain Richard Blackmore, inherits a house from an ageing aunt. The house is in Richmond, British Columbia, Canada, on the Fraser River and has a view of Swishwash island. I’ve described the house, the river and the view the house has of the island in some detail. However, I have never been there. In fact I’ve never been to Canada at all. So how do I get such detail into my writing. I use Google Earth. It gives me a view of the area I want to place my story and though it’s current technology and fairly up to date images, I only have to Google for images of the area in the time period (assuming the camera had been invented) and someone has probably put an image online. The rest it up to your imagination.

My house, rather the Captain’s house, is located where a hovercraft station is now sitting. I can even imagine the owners of the land in present day knocking down Blackmore’s home to make way for the new hovercraft station.

Well, you do need a little artistic licence in your writing.

Copyright © Tom Kane 2019

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