Location Scouting

I took a trip to the coast recently and spent some time by the North Sea. Why? Well, it’s pretty important to the novel I’m writing.

The light was gorgeous – grey and muted so that everything felt very still. We had to check the tide tables carefully so as not to get stranded anywhere on the way.

I love it when the setting of a book feels like it could almost be an additional character, and so a key part of research has been getting to know the location well enough to bring it to life.

As you can see from the pictures, this isn’t a bright and busy seaside; this is a windswept coastline that needs to be explored to be fully appreciated. Just out of shot in two of the photos is a large group of grey seals, lying about on a sandbank and calling to one another. There are oystercatchers and curlews in the shallows, fishing boats moored close to the shore, and ancient ruins perched high over them. And there are things you can’t research from simply looking at photos of a place, like the smell of the air when you get close to the sea.

I also picked up a brilliant local newsletter for one of the nearby villages, which was filled with wonderful things such as the results of the recent vegetable show and a cry for help from someone experiencing a jam jar emergency. It’s wonderful material for writing inspiration!

Fellow writers, do you find visiting your setting (or somewhere similar, if you’re writing fantasy) helpful? Should I make more of an effort to set my next book on a Caribbean island and go on an extended ‘research trip’?

30 thoughts on “Location Scouting

  1. shelleywilson72 says:

    Breathing in the atmosphere of a setting is important to me too, Claire. I took my kids camping to Sherwood Forest a few years ago because my last novel was set in Nottingham (werewolves living in the forest!) To be able to close my eyes and remember the smells and sounds of walking through the trees was brilliant. I’m heading off to Italy on Monday as I want to set a novel I’m planning out there – let me know when you’re planning your Caribbean trip and I’ll tag along πŸ˜‰


    • Claire Wong says:

      That sounds fun – and why SHOULDN’T there be werewolves in Sherwood, given everything else that forest has seen?! Have a marvellous time in Italy, it’s one of my favourite countries to travel to, and I look forward to hearing more about your next novel! πŸ™‚

      Liked by 1 person

  2. shaunkellett says:

    I write fantasy and sci-fi, I’ve never thought about location scouting really but that does sound like a fantastic idea! Especially for some of the more realistic areas… I might have to look into it! We share a love, because I too love when a setting can be its own character, if a story doesn’t have a believable setting you’ll find it hard to sell me on it. I think this kind of exercise will pay off!


  3. Holly says:

    Absolutely one of my favourite parts of the writing process! It’s fun when you write something set in a fictional location, or speculative fiction and you have to get creative with location scouting because the places don’t exist in real life.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Claire Saul (PainPalsBlog) says:

    Not a “writer” (except here) but can totally understand that visiting certain places will play a part in creating….I love a book when the description allows me to feel, see, taste the landscapes and location. Plus great excuse for all you writers to visit and take stunning photos – where was this?? Beautiful x


  5. Gary says:

    Certainly it can help. I do think you have to go in characters to make it work properly though. See it as they would, hear it, smell it and feel it. I’m semi-fortunate in having tasted the atmosphere in many places, not as settings per se, but as prompts stored for future reference. Things like the dankness of a castle ruin; the echoes and silence. Graveyards both at night and during day, derelict cottages and eerie lakes. Alas, having trouble with outer space and past times; although one can mind palace those πŸ™‚

    Best flipping excuse to take a holiday though… so I say more and more often πŸ™‚


      • Gary says:

        Just a few Claire! I do live the idea of visiting places though. Keeping the mind fresh and a walk anywhere really ensure the cobwebs are blown away.

        The space one is a tad tricky I admit. But writing is 90% imagination so as long as things sound plausible yes?


  6. Anindya says:

    All the very best with your novel Claire, and these settings are beautiful in their haunting melancholy to give every inspiration that you might need for your writing……yes, every place has its own uniqueness and that better be explored to experience up close……nice post…:)….great to come across your blog and to follow it.


  7. Lisa Orchard says:

    What a great idea for a trip! Did you know that you can write your trip off as an expense on your taxes because you did it for research for a book? You’re pictures are awesome and I can’t wait for your book to come out! Keep us posted!


  8. josypheen says:

    I always thought that being a location scout sounds like one of the most amazing fun jobs in the world! Travelling to pretty places and imagining what it could look like on film!? It’d be amaaaazing.

    I love that you did a similar process for writing.


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