How to get the most out of travelling as a writer
Travelling is wonderful. As a writer it can provide you with a new source of inspiration and help to avoid the use of stereotypes and clichés in your novels.
Below we’ll examine various categories of travel inspiration
Regardless of genre, all writers must describe a story’s landscape at one or several points. You could simply set all of your books in the area that you live in, or do all of your research via books and the Internet. However, if you’re lucky enough to travel then pay attention to the diversity of the various states and countries, as personal experience is always the best research.
For example, at the Grand Canyon one may notice the uneven ground of the various scenic lookout places or the plethora of shades the sunset has at the Canyon. What type of scene could you set at the place?
When travelling, note the climate conditions and their variation throughout the day. How would this influence for example a romantic scene versus a chase scene in your novel?
How is your heroine fleeing in the redwood forest different from her running through a cornfield in Iowa? Would she be more exhausted in the forest due to the uneven ground and high likelihood of stumbling over a tree root? Or will the shade aid her and the trees protect her from being discovered? What about humidity, high altitude, likelihood of rain?
Pay attention to the various animals and birds that live in a particular region and think how they would influence your protagonists’ behavior.
Is the landscape realistic as a setting for a battle between aliens?
For example, on Brighton beach in Brooklyn? Probably not, due to the amount of tourists, unless you’re writing a book where humans know about aliens.
Often the settings of books are extraordinary. Writers and readers want to explore something unusual, something that is fancier than real life. Of course you could just work from your imagination or Disney movies. But in order to avoid clichés, allow yourself to think beyond turrets and dungeons.
Investigate what different architectural styles there are and what time period they were built in.
Obviously not every book uses forts and baroque castle, but a house built in the 1950s will still look different from one built in the 21st century. Notice the unique aspects and what that means for your characters’ lifestyle.
Cities have so much inspiration that I won’t even attempt to list everything. Personally, I like to walk around different neighborhoods to get a feeling for them. If a city is the main setting of your book, think what area your protagonist would live in and why. Try to understand what type of people would surround him or her and what that means. A hipster neighborhood in an up and coming city is the perfect setting for a contemporary romance, while a secluded house in a run-down and abandoned part of town lends itself naturally to the mystery genre.
If your character spends a significant chunk of time in a museum, TV Production Company, etc., ensure that you can create a realistic outline of a place like this. Tour a few TV studios before writing about them. Fictional books are based on reality.
This one is particularly important if you live in a small community. Yet, even if you live in a big city, it is easy to start hanging out with a homogenous group of people and lose track of other lifestyles and cultures.
You might find it easier to meet new people with different backgrounds to your own when you travel. Take your time to notice the habits of the locals. Perhaps their body language or word choices are different. The same goes for tourists. People flock to holiday destinations from all over the world. Whether you are in Las Vegas or Cinque Terre, watch the behavior and body language of individuals around you. Often traveling involves a certain amount of stress and the way individuals interact with their spouses and children at check in and check out is especially telling and could provide you with a plethora of inspiration to start your new book.
Tourists are so focused on their new surroundings that it will take them longer to realize you are studying them. This means it is your perfect opportunity to study body language, rather than relying on clichés. How does someone look, who’s exhausted versus someone who’s simply bored? Impatient versus frustrated?
I hope these suggestions have been useful in how you can incorporate your travel experiences in your writing. Inspiration really is all around us. All you need to do is look.