Resources – the Atlas

Europe - featuring Sweden (green section at top centre)
Europe – featuring Sweden (green section at top centre)

I feel that this is an area that might be interesting to readers and writers.

Prior to the April A to Z Challenge 2014, I set up a menu to build a list of resource materials.

In my menu I listed several books that I use myself as handy resource tools. Online resources are a separate idea in my opinion, so I’ll leave them until after I’ve written a few posts on that wonderful idea; the book.

What do I use?

I use the Philips Navigator Britain, which is excellent whether being used for journeys or as a writing resource. I have a good map of Northern Ireland and a separate map of Eire aka; the Irish Republic, or Southern Ireland. To handle international issues, I also have the AA Road Atlas Europe and The Times World Atlas, which is much more than a book full of maps.

What do I get from my ‘Navigator Britain’ atlas?

1. Route planners, which enable me to decide which way characters might choose to get from A to B.

2. Town and city names which apart from anything else sometimes provide ideas for character names.

3. Motorways, major roads, minor roads, bridle paths, rivers, lakes and railways are clear.

4. Densely populated areas and remote areas which can help with a plot.

5. Places of interest like: castles, golf courses, museums, historical sites and much more.

Why not use Google or another search engine?

My atlas is physically there with no searching, opening various windows, setting parameters.

If I find something that has an appeal, I then follow up with a search engine for up to date details.

What do I get from the World Atlas?

1. My geographical knowledge is reasonable, but it provides so much confidence to double-check things like borders, flags, populations, average temperature, the currency, languages spoken and more.

2. I’ve been to many cities in Europe but it’s nice to relate to a route by road number and see how a city can be approached from a variety of directions, including from other cities.

3. Distances between places and the terrain are all there by taking a closer look, not be going screen to screen, zooming in and out and so on.

4. If I find something that appeals, I can as said before, use a search engine for up to date information.

5. Time zones, latitude and longitude are all inter-related and help when characters are travelling or communicating with somebody across the world.

I have a good selection of city maps and individual country maps to supplement these two main books, so for me, these things are so much more than mere books full of maps.

Are you a map person, or a search engine person, whether a reader or a writer?

My next blog patrol starts today so if you’re on my list – see you soon.

In my next post I’ll look at the Zodiac Signs book, but for now, thank you for stopping by.



5 thoughts on “Resources – the Atlas

  1. Julia Lund

    There is little that beats a physical source; for me, it’s the way I can hold it, mark sections with post its or jot notes in margins. I do use the internet a lot for research, but books and real live people are just as important. I’m currently reading Jane Eyre (again!) for both pleasure and research for my new novel. I bought a new copy solely so I can make specific annotation. I have been to a lecture on the Brontes, been in contact with Bronte experts and have a Bronte background reading list a mile long. The other element of this novel will involve military history: visits to the local regimental museum; the reading of numerous WW1 histories and personal accounts; the watching of various documentaries and dramas recorded over the past twelve months in anticipation. After reading this post, I think I may need some maps too!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you for stopping by Julia. Whatever genre your next book is, this level of research creates the desire to buy it. Remember to enjoy the research as much as possible during the writing.
      Your self-confidence will have such a boost. I’m pleased for you.
      I have my ‘Amsterdam Calling’ manuscript printed and in a file for my final ‘red pen’ edit, but I still have my Amsterdam city map hanging up on one of my bookshelf units for easy reference right to the end.
      Please keep me up to date, unless you’re posting updates on your blog which I’ll find on my patrol.


      1. Julia Lund

        Glad you’re on course for ‘Amsterdam Calling’.
        I love the research almost as much as the writing! I always do far more than I need, but that’s no bad thing …


  2. I’m definitely more a search engine person. Maybe it’s down to lack of time. I love a book to browse through, but I also love the immediacy and speed of a search engine. The internet is everything at your fingers: map, phone book, thesaurus, dictionary, encyclopaedia, and whatever else you can think of. Of course, you have to be careful that you choose wisely on the web – not everything is accurate – but I always tend to double check everything anyway.

    Kudos to you, Mr Benson, as to how thoroughly you approach your writing.


  3. I’m a 100% search engine person. Can’t remember the last time I looked at a paper map book. I only use paper maps as a tourist if the roaming charges prove too high and there’s no wifi 🙂


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