Okay so you know the situation. Your characters are about to set out on foot for an epic journey. You want your readers to understand just how long and grueling this task will be. You want them to be able to imagine every drop of sweat, every blister, every
pee break night camped out under the stars. So you sit down to calculate how backbreaking this journey will be. After five minutes of earnest trying you spend fifteen more minutes becoming red-faced and irrationally angry. Ain’ t so easy is it?
So what do you do? You say something like:
Horatio set off on a journey of many miles. His path was long and winding blah blah blah.
I’m sorry but you gave up. I understand why you gave up but still…
Or maybe you went halfway but forgot about certain rules involving time and space. For example maybe you wrote something like:
Hunky Savestheday put boot to earth, braving fifty miles of blinding snow. All through the night he plodded, exhausted and shivering, and by morning he had arrived.
Really? Fifty miles… on foot… overnight? Maybe your story is set in a universe with cold fusion rocket boots but chances are you just didn’t do the work. The math is off and it messes with readers’ minds. At least readers like me.
Fear not! Your treacherous path can be decoded rather simply using a little tool developed by a runner.
Gmaps Pedometer is a website using the Google Maps platform that allows runners to plot their routes along streets, hiking paths, really anywhere feet are allowed. The program automatically conforms to the bends in the road and records the distance as you add to your desired route. It uses a latitude/longitude based algorithm to accurately supply the distance for any path you can dream up. The last step is to divide your distance by the walking/running/biking/horseback riding/… speed of your character’s and *poof * you have an accurate time frame for your character’s arduous trek. A quick web search will give you average figures for walking speed ranging from 2.5 to 4 miles per hour.
And for those of you writing a Steampunk bicycle western (that’s gotta be a thing right?) there is a cycling function that steers your chosen path along only bike-worthy routes.
So now dear reader you have been equipped. Go forth before your characters go forth and make that journey accurate.