• Ashley Nicole

Less Common Writing Resources - Google Maps and Zillow

We've all heard of Grammarly or ProWritingAid or some other similar editing software, and we all watch the YouTube how-to-be-a-better-writer videos (Oh, just me?), and we've all read the writing craft books of the great successful authors. But did you know there are other resources out there that can not only help improve your writing but make it more realistic?

In today's blog I'm going to share one of my favorite writing resources that not everyone may use to its full potential. Over the next few weeks I will be covering the benefits of:


Google Maps and Zillow


Movie and Video Game Soundtracks




I use Google Maps all the time to get me to and from places and to check on ETAs, but did you know you could use it for your writing as well? When you're writing about a place for your characters you are allowed to make up any aspects you want of the setting but if you would like to give your book a more realistic feel then Google Maps can help.

By turning on street view you can literally walk in your character's shoes in the town you want them to live in. You can see what their neighborhood is like, how far the nearest coffee shop is, ways for them to commute to work. Even if you don't want to use the actual town you are looking at you can get ideas for the town you want in your story.

Accuracy on towns in books is a really nice touch when someone from that town is reading it. If you use a bigger city most likely (hopefully) someone from there will read your book and if you poof your character across town in 5 minutes when it takes 45 it may bug your reader. This is not to say your story has to be 100% correct, just something to keep in mind as you write.

Google Maps can also help you get a sense of specific buildings as well, places such as hospitals, boarding schools, and airports. Looking at several of the type of building you want can help you write it better. How big are airports? What are they near? How many buildings are they? How is the parking laid out? All these little questions can be answered by finding a bunch in the maps and that realism can add new depth to your writing.


In case you don't know, Zillow is a real estate website that helps you find, look at, and buy houses. I'm currently a renter so I'm on Zillow quite often looking for my forever home!

Again, yes you can lay out your characters' houses anyway you want because of course every house is different, but sometimes going off of the picture in your mind doesn't translate the same to a page. Maybe you're from New York City but your character is at a beach house in Florida. What do beach houses in Florida look like? What do they sell for?

Something else helpful is reading the realtors descriptions of the houses you are interested in using. These descriptions could help you write your own to help people really see the house.

Room layouts, landscaping, color schemes, all of these and more can be found by going through pictures of houses on Zillow.

I will be posting a new resource for this series every other week so I look forward to sharing more with you over the next few months!

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