Writing Transportation

Whoever said, “Getting there is half the fun” wasn’t a writer. For the written word, getting from point A to point B (writing transportation) can be deadly.


cars on road
Driving holds three potholes for writers.

One is the temptation to “make it real” by including (boring and unnecessary) details about a route driven. Does anyone really care that your character took Three Chopt to Gaskins and merged onto I-64 west, exited onto I-295 to pick up I-95? Ditto with such details as taking Horsepen to Boulevard, taking a right onto Malvern, and a left on Cary St. Local readers might think, “Yeah, s/he knows the territory.” But if these specific turns and streets aren’t central to the plot, find a more dynamic way to establish your credibility!

birds eye view highway

The other pitfall is to have fallen in love with the Pacific Coast Highway, the Blueridge Parkway, the winding roads through Colorado mountains, or some other scenic road and putting one’s character in a car along the way, rhapsodizing at the beauty.


And then there is the typical road trip. We’ve all been there. People cut you off. Road construction slows you down. But unless the trucker who seems to be jockeying you off the road is going to turn up later, don’t mention it!


highway at sunset
Planes are equally tempting.
airplane interior
If your character is flying from Dulles to Frankfurt, you might again be tempted to make it real by describing the drink spilled in his/her lap, the noise, the fatigue. But unless the obnoxious seatmate or the mother with the cute baby will show up later in the plot, don’t mention them. Unless something plot-related happens en route, skip the travel! Put your character on the plan in Dulles (never mind the frustrations of security screening) and get him/her off in Frankfurt, fatigued if it’s relevant.


The same is true of any mode of transportation.
Unless you are writing a travelogue, something like “Walking from Rockaway Beach, NY to Rockaway Beach, Oregon, and all my interesting experiences along the way,” launch your character on their way and skip to the arrival. Anything else just slows the plot line and risks losing the reader.


Bottom line: Unless something or someone important to the plot is encountered along the way, when it comes to writing transportation, don’t!

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