Novel writing How to Write a Setting You Can’t Visit

Novel Writing Tips: How to Write a Setting You Can’t Visit

Fantasy novel writing settings advice

Often novel writing, especially with fantasy books, is about using a setting you can’t see. Some people are fortunate enough to plan a trip for their novels. I’ve never been that fortunate. I have traveled a lot, though. 

In The Sciell’s Legacy, the 4th and final book in The Merging Worlds Series, some of my are characters are transported to a ship, a city on the sea. At first, I was going to make it a transformed cruise ship, But, I like the idea of a shipping container town on the sea. 

I’ve been on a cruise ship. I’ve toured large ships but I’ve never been on a container ship. Doubt I’ll have the chance. With COVID going on, I doubt I’ll accept the offer even if, by some miracle, I get the opportunity. So, how can I write about this city on the sea? To Google!

Ask Someone

I know someone who worked at the Department of Transportation in Washington, DC. They’re far more knowledgeable about ships than I am. I’ll be picking their brain and they’ll be reading The Sciell’s Legacy once it’s finished to give me comments. 

If you don’t know anyone, ask #writingcommunity on Twitter or start a discussion on a Facebook novel writing group. 

Search YouTube

There’s probably a YouTube video about the location. I found a few tours of container ships.

Do a Pinterest or Google Image Search

If we’re writing a fantasy story set in a fictional location, we can’t visit it. Usually, I’ll base the setting on an actual place or use fantasy artwork for inspiration.

An image search is my go-to when researching settings. I often find fantasy artwork depicting exactly what I need. Like this shipping container cafe on ArtStation

I usually collect my images on Pinterest.

fantasy novel writing inspiration Pinterest code

Find Books or Articles

If your location is well-known, you may find people who’ve written about it. You could even watch documentaries as well. I don’t know if I’ll find posts about living on a container ship but I’ve found a few about living on the sea. I’ll include those in another post. 

The magic of the internet. When you can visit a place without traveling. Do you have any tips to add? Comment below.