Reply To: Connie Bretes Submissions

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Zara West

Hi Connie,

I don’t write about Boston although I have been there. But I do write urban settings. One thing you could do is describe more urban elements like smells, traffic sounds and sirens at appropriate moments. They might use public transport more as parking and driving can be an issue. You can use actual street names and names of stores. One thing I do is go on Google maps (satellite view) and pick out the area I am writing about. Then I find a street where I want the character to live and then I go to Zillow (that a realty company) and type in the street and it brings up houses on the street so I can pick an actual house an include elements in the description so it has the feel of the place and community. The cool thing is you get to see the interiors too if it’s for sale. One thing you need to look for are areas of Boston near MIT that  have swimming pools, because I gave a quick look and don’t find swimming pools to be common. You may actually have to use a suburb for where they live. Then you would need to talk about commutes and more traffic. Boston area rush hour traffic is miserable. You can go to street view in Google maps and “drive” along the streets as your characters would. MIT is on the Charles River right in the heart of Boston so you might mention famous landmarks too. Another thing is to check out the weather. It’s summer in your novel and you mention the heat, but the Boston area isn’t just hot it is terribly humid and subject to heavy downpours. Hope these ideas help. The best thing is to go visit the locale, but I know this is not always possible.


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