Writing is a labor of love for authors, and any advice we can get is usually welcome. I’ve read through a lot of blogs and websites and books in my early days of learning to write and found them a little repetitive. Here are a few things I rely on that I never found in a book.
1. Google Earth is a Writer’s Best Friend
Google Earth not only will allow you to get street names or find hotels your protagonist might use. It also lets you SEE them. Street view is amazing for getting an idea of what a place looks like from the ground floor. You can stroll around a town, drive the streets, and see pictures from fellow users. I’ve used it to scout potential locations for homes, apartments, and even used it to find the lighthouse I based Awkening off of. I could see all around the tower, around the keeper’s house, and even wander the trails along the shoreline. I learned about the tourist attractions in the region and got to see the setting in a variety of seasons. All in all, fantastic! Very useful.
2. Reference Librarians are Awesome!
Fantasy of any kind can be tricky to write, but urban fantasy more so. Most monsters who feature in this genre usually have their roots in mythology or history. That’s where the reference librarian comes in handy. Imagine you want to know about the more obscure monsters from Greek mythology – you know, the ones maybe people don’t know so much about – ask the reference librarian. You taxes pay their wages. And most of them are excited to answer questions that don’t have to do with children’s books or vampires or high school essays. I’ve never gone wrong, and have even made some great friends this way.
3. Find Inspiration Where You Can
Ideas are all around us. It’s easy to fall into the cliches of a genre, even urban fantasy, without realizing it. We read a lot in the genre we want to write in, so it’s natural to be inspired by that. If you want a different way to get inspiration, try using Wikipedia’s “random” button. With the sheer volume of articles, you’re guaranteed to find something useful after a few clicks. I know I did.
4. Police Sketching Software
Have trouble with drawing? Terrible artist? That’s me. I have trouble constructing what my characters look like without seeing something visual, and scrolling through pictures on Google images after searching for “urban fantasy women” really wasn’t doing it for me – and I saw some things I can never forget. So I went to the school where I work and used their criminal justice software to build a sketch just like a sketch artist might. You can pick face shapes, scroll through different hairstyles and skin tones, and tweak to your heart’s content.
5. Microsoft OneNote
This is my software of choice for keeping my characters straight, plot lines untangled, and detailed world building notes that never see the light of day. OneNote is great because you can create notebooks with various tabs and pages, just like those old binders we used to use in school. It also will sync across multiple devices, allowing the savvy urban fantasy author to add or review the pages anywhere – even on a phone. I don’t know where I’d be without this software to keep my notes straight. It may seem surprising, but it’s easy to forget the small details and happenings. Especially on the fourth or fifth book.
Awakening (The Keeper Chronicles Book 1) is an INDIEFAB Book of the Year finalist.
Demons live among us. And humanity’s secret guardians are the Keepers. When her father dies mysteriously, Rebekah Lorek is thrust into a world she’s not prepared for, and her awakening powers are a mystery. She has to sort friend from foe before she finds herself the target of a demon’s vicious hunger.