Next week I'll be on the road back to one of my old stomping grounds; Poughkeepsie, NY. I will be up there during July 3rd-5th and will be a guest on the Anthony Charles Podcast to promote my new book The Phoenix Blade. While I'm up there, I will also be scouting areas for the sequel for my detective series.
So I guess the big questions are how do you scout areas and how do you choose the areas to scout? In my Phoenix Blade series, I could not afford to physically scout all the areas listed in my books. In that series of books, I used the Internet to scout every location and vehicle. Thanks to Google and the Internet as a whole for aiding writers with finding generalized details about people, places, and things.
A lot can be said for scouting through the Internet. However, my personal preference is to view the areas and locations personally. The Internet can give general details, but you get more intimate details from being there in person. Minor details can unknowingly impact the feel of your book.
So how do you choose which areas to scout?
Most of it depends on your story. First, I would research the area where your story takes place. This is the most important part of your scouting process. Without knowledge of the area for your story, there is more room for error; that is unless you are creating a fictional world. The second thing to do is to use the Internet to find places to scout (this is where the Internet is beneficial). By searching the web, you can find more locations that you can sort through for your story. Once you have a handful of locations picked out, you can personally go there to check them out. Make sure to bring a notepad/notebook, pen, and camera.
When I researched an upcoming book, The Campus Killer, I traveled to the New Paltz/Poughkeepsie areas to look at colleges, towns, and restaurants. It took my attention to detail to a different level by experiencing the settings first hand. My writing had creative and general details in the past, but by seeing the areas and taking pictures, I had first had knowledge of how it looked and a reference point to continuously go back to when writing.
Hope this helps. Stay tuned for more posts coming in the next few weeks.