Scoping out locations for your novel #2: Road Trip! (The Airport)

While I was researching sites in Southern New Jersey, I needed a farm that was close enough to point A and also within 20 miles of an airport.  I found many farms in South Jersey, but one was perfect.  It was right smack dab between the two other locations, and it was surrounded by woods (which I also needed.)

I was alone with the kids that weekend, so I figured we’d make a day-trip out of it.  I didn’t tell them where we were going.  What we did is drive the route that my characters from “Fire in the Woods” would be running. We went in reverse order and visited the airport first.  My oldest son and I jumped out of the car.  At that point, I told him that I was scoping locations for my book.

Yes, the Monomaniacal Middle Grade Reviewer was totally into it.  The two younger ones were already “over it.”

I was a little nervous, because I had already written a lot of my story just from Google Earth and other sky maps.  Would the location be as good in real life?

The first thing that struck me was the chain link fences surrounding the runways.  I guess I should have thought of that.

“No problem,” I whispered.  “The tanks with just run right over those.”

“Tanks?”  my son asked, a big smile on his face.  “What are you gonna do, Mom?”

I just smiled.

He laughed.  “You’re gonna blow it up, aren’t you?”

Yeah, my son knows me pretty well.

I couldn’t get out to the runways, although I probably could have gone inside and asked for a better look, but I didn’t have my business cards or anything.  I could see all I needed, though.  Long runways, surrounded by a thick forest on one side, and a lot of trees on the other… out in the middle of no-where.  It was perfect.

There was something else fun, too.  A big re-fueling tank.  Ah, the joys of hundreds of gallons of gasoline, just sitting there, waiting for me to…

Yeah.  This location was perfect.

We were only there for a few minutes, snapped a few pictures, and then it was off to the farm.  Excited now, I was hoping the farm would be as good.

Have you ever visited a location for your novel?  How did it go?


25 responses to “Scoping out locations for your novel #2: Road Trip! (The Airport)

  1. Your son is awesome. Do you think he’ll be following in your footsteps? My eight-year-old granddaughter has already written numerous children’s stories and a poem this past week (starting from age six). I feel she has her own thing going and couldn’t be more pleased.

  2. Cool! It’s interesting to hear your process. I’ve had no need to scout locations, but I will admit to often fantasizing a romance novel abduction/seduction scene (starring moi) in many fabulous places while I’m wandering through them. The best part is that nobody around knows what I’m thinking. It certainly gave Istanbul all that much more “oomph.” mowaahahahaha

  3. Your son is one cool kid. I set 18 Things in the town where I spent my summers w/ my Dad . . . so it was fun visiting last summer and taking lots of pics with the novel in mind:-)

  4. Loved your son’s comments: “You’re going to blow it up, huh?” So funny.

  5. I have picked up a story outline that I put to paper over 10 years ago due to some nudging from God. I just sat down with my husband Kelly this afternoon and planned a trip to Southport, NC (close to Oak Island). I write for older kids (ages 10-15) so this one won’t have tanks in it, but this little town is such a treasure trove of historical incidents. Keep me in your prayers. It’s only an hour’s drive but I’m excited to take this little trip with my Claire, who is 14 and VERY into me turning an outline into a book. Sandy

  6. My WIPs take place close to home, so field trips are a simple thing to arrange. In fact, next weekend I’ll be taking my camera on a shopping trip because it’s exactly the right time of year for the setting, and I want some location shots—both for inspiration for me and for the blog. 🙂

  7. The setting in my novel is fictional, but based on the seacoast area where I live. So, I incorporated a lot of real-life details but messed around with them to fit the story.

    I wrote a NaNo story where the setting is Broadway, primarily ‘behind the scenes’. I have never been to Broadway beyond strolling up and down the streets, but if I ever get a chance to get backstage, I will be all over it!

    The setting for your novel sounds awesome! You’re lucky it worked out so well.

  8. My first series took place at my cottage area in the Allegheny Mountains. Made it so easy to describe places I visited for over 20 years. Another setting is along Lake Michigan where I’ve spent time, but my current is a place I’ve never been. Thank God for Google Earth and the other free resources we can use. Cool that your son is into it with you. Loved your post.

    • Yes Google Earth has been great. It let me at least see the location in general, but the visual gave me great ideas… like that wonderul gas tank, and a tower that I was not able to see until I was actually there.

  9. Sounds like a fun field trip. I could imagine that walking around and driving around could be really helpful for your writing and also fun.

    • It was fun to actually “go there”. I also like the idea of looking at real places, because then people who read the novel can go there as say “This is where Jess and David hid”

      I just love that idea.

  10. I spent a week in a place which I used for the basis of my main location (if you’re interested, something like this:,_Cumbria,_England_-_June_2009.jpg/400px-Glenridding,_Cumbria,_England_-_June_2009.jpg )

    I didn’t actually know that it would be my location. I just went there on holiday, but it was perfect. Whenever I want to describe the setting I can recall it perfectly.

  11. I thought of adding a location to my story only after I’d visited it. I went to the Middle East for business back in 2001 and only later released I could use that in the story. Problem is I don’t really have the opportunity to go back to double check things. Yes, Google Earth is great for these things! 🙂

  12. Sounds like your site visit to the airport was a blast! (lol) Hope your farm visit goes as well. 🙂

    I am fortunate to have the historical site for my stories only about 20 minutes away.

    BTW, tag, you’re it! If you want to play, check out my blog for details. 🙂

  13. That sounds like a wonderful place. Away from all the hustle and bustle. Probably not a place that would be fun to blow up, though. 🙂

  14. Julie Catherine

    Ooooh, Jennifer is plotting to blow stuff up – love it! LOL!

    I’m lucky in that I spent several summers in the same location as my book – 7 miles out in Georgian Bay on a little island; it was awesome! And while it’s been years since I was there, the memories are so vivid in my mind that I have absolutely no problem bringing up images in my mind when I’m writing – my favorite place ever!