Virtual Turnpike: A Useful Tool For Writers

06 Feb

Maybe you have a scene in mind and you know it will take place at a little corner cafe in Florence, Italy. Or maybe in a warehouse in LA, or a a winding road in North Carolina, or a street in NYC. Details of the area will add character and depth to your scene but unless you live in the area you can’t just pack up and go there. I use Google Earth to explore neighborhoods and highways and everything else when doing story research. Now there’s a new kid on the block. Similar to Google Earth but in some ways better. Check out Virtual Turnpike. Pretty cool and it might help you craft that scene.


Posted by on February 6, 2010 in Writing


9 responses to “Virtual Turnpike: A Useful Tool For Writers

  1. cherilaser

    February 6, 2010 at 10:42 am

    Thanks so much for this tip! I also immerse myself in the imagery before I ever start writing a scene, and I’m excited about exploring this new resource!



  2. Digital Dame

    February 6, 2010 at 11:25 am

    Excellent resource, thanks! Most of us can’t go jetting around the globe on a whim to get some obscure detail of a location. Hopefully this will be a nice alternative.


  3. Jonathan Quist

    February 6, 2010 at 12:01 pm

    Looks like a useful tool, but I’m at a loss to say what that site adds to Google Maps street view, except perhaps advertisements.

    I have used Google Maps to research defunct-but-still-standing theaters in the Chicago area; in one particular case, this provided details ranging from the appearance of the marquee to the faint outline showing the shape of the original bill board on the front of the building.


    • D.P. Lyle, MD

      February 6, 2010 at 2:22 pm

      It’s faster and doesn’t require launching the entire Google Earth program. But Earth has more features. This I think will be useful for a quick look at a location. And it’s fun.


  4. Vicki Lane

    February 6, 2010 at 12:43 pm

    Totally amazing!


  5. JoAnn Haberer

    February 6, 2010 at 2:44 pm

    Thanks so much for this link. My setting is in Hawaii and much of our 50th state is not yet available from Google Earth. This link had very sharp, very clear photos of obscure streets on the outer islands. I will bookmark it!


  6. Vicki

    February 6, 2010 at 5:00 pm

    It’s quick but that truck in my mom’s driveway died four years ago when my daughter forgot to check the oil. My old office is still there in PA though it was torn down a couple years ago. So, while it is a great tool, a pinch of double checking might help.


    • D.P. Lyle, MD

      February 6, 2010 at 8:54 pm

      Great point. Same can be said for Google. Many of the pics on both are old—sometimes many years old—hard to snapshot the entire globe and keep it current. I like this site because it gives you a quick favor of where you are. Yes, be careful of the details but many of the street scenes capture some of the atmosphere. Helps when you’re staring out the window trying to imagine the next scene. Just go there and see if something in the pics plants a seed.


  7. Digital Dame

    February 6, 2010 at 9:11 pm

    GoogleEarth still shows a car in my driveway that’s been gone for roughly 10 years.



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