Thursday Thirteen: Tools to Research Setting

I often find interesting bits of information floating around that don’t necessarily correspond to an entire blogpost. To compensate, sometimes I’ll have a Thursday Thirteen to collect and spread the knowledge-love, bringing me back to the original point of Worderella Writes. But I reserve the right to have a Thursday Seven, Thursday Two, Thursday Whatever-Number-I-Manage-to-Get-To… even though they don’t sound as good. Today’s theme is tools to help you research and/or write your setting. #1 – 7: Everyone can enjoy. #8-13: Probably for historical fiction writers only.

  1. Google Maps, MapQuest, etc. Use these websites for distances to known locations, driving routes, etc.
  2. Google Earth. This is great free application for those of us who are writing about places we may never see. This application allows us to see landscapes, weather patterns, traffic, and more, with the added benefit of seeing the pictures other Google Earth users took of the area and posted online.

    * Disclaimer: Don’t blame me if you find yourself spending hours staring at the local landmarks of your chosen location. I can’t help it if Google Earth is that cool.

  3. Google SketchUp. If your WIP is at an existing location, together with Google Earth you can actually render a 3D model of the building. Not only that, but it has the capability to render floorplans and you can put little people in there, too. You’ll never accidently put your character in the drawing room when you meant the library ever again.
  4. Architectural Details. Can’t remember what that one arch is called on your building? This is the layperson’s guide to architectural elements to help you describe the places your characters visit/live.
  5. Wikipedia. A good place to start when you’re beginning your research on a particular location, but not something that should be the end-all-be-all for what you know about the place.
  6. Writing the setting. A nice essay on things to keep in mind while working on setting.
  7. Setting > Worderella collection. Sadly, I don’t have a lot about setting, and I should have more, but this will give you all the posts that pertain to setting in some way.
  8. A Dictionary of Victorian London. A collection of articles, journals, and diaries posted online and in book format, I’ve been meaning to buy the book because I reference this site almost as often as I check e-mail. Which is to say, religiously.
  9. Dickens’s London. Predictably, London as Dickens knew it in the 1880s.
  10. History Link. A subscription website supposedly full of links that guide you through your research for your novel. I’m not sure whether this is better than trolling the web and library for information, so if anyone has experience with this place, please comment.
  11. Victorian Web. An indispensible website full to the brim of information about Victorian England.
  12. County Maps of England. This is where I found my 1885 maps of Berkshire, and how I know that Compton Beauchamp belonged to Berkshire at the time, and not Oxfordshire as it does now.
  13. Edwardian Promenade. A blog focused on a series of essays about Victorian and Edwardian life.

I know I missed some resources. Let me know in the comments what you use to get a handle on your setting!

8 thoughts on “Thursday Thirteen: Tools to Research Setting

  1. That is an excellent resource for Victorian writers. Or even time travel/fantasy writers whose setting is 1860s London.

    Thank you, Tony!


  2. That is an excellent resource for Victorian writers. Or even time travel/fantasy writers whose setting is 1860s London.

    Thank you, Tony!


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