1. ericb0redalot
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    ericb0redalot New Member

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    a real small town setting, or a 'fake' small town setting?

    Discussion in 'Setting Development' started by ericb0redalot, Jun 28, 2011.

    Hello all. I've been here for a few months, mostly just keeping a low profile and reading posts.

    I am attempting to write a book that I hope to get going as a series eventually. It's fiction. Half or more of the book is going to take place on Earth, in a small town. The rest of the plot takes place in small increments in another world.

    I'm having a small problem figuring out where I want to put my setting. It will be a small town in either Kentucky or Ohio (probably Ohio.) My question is, should I use a fictional-made up place for a setting or should I use a real small town.

    I know it's probably a silly detail that most readers will more than likely overlook, assuming it even gets to see publication. I never quite notice in books that I read if the setting is an actual town or not, but in my mind they usually pass for real even if they aren't.

    Thanks.
     
  2. Mallory
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    Mallory Mallegory. Contributor

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    I'd personally use a fictional town. It can have a name similar to a real town, and have similar factors, but you don't have to do all this research and make sure to get all the places right and make sure you're not accidentally libeling anyone who lives there...j/k on the last part but I think fictional would be the way to go. Unless you know the town, have lived there, know it well enough to make it an exciting tribute for readers who live there, in which case real might work.
     
  3. thewordsmith
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    thewordsmith Contributing Member Contributor

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    eric, unless you have pretty intimate knowledge of any real small town you choose, you are probably better off to opt for a fictitious town. It totally breaks the story for me when I am reading about a real place of which I have fairly extensive knowledge and the author throws in something irrelevant to the story and off the wall and unreal. If it is important to the story to put a small ice cream shop on the corner of 'This Street' and 'That Road' (btw, there really is a 'That Road' in central Indiana) but, if someone is just passing out descriptions and I KNOW it is not real, well ... it just throws everything off. Just like when they don't do enough technical research about something and they have a character spouting errors in medicine or chemistry or whatever. it kind of takes the edge off the rest of the story for me.
    So, if, as I said before, you don't have intimate knowledge of the setting, stick with a town of your own creation. You are never wrong there.
     
  4. WriterDude
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    WriterDude Contributing Member Contributor

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    Why not use a combination? Use a real town as the base and expand on it with fictional stuff. I don't have a hospital in my home town, but that doesn't mean I can't have one here in my story.

    Or perhaps make a fictional town based on a real town? That works too, and gives you more freedom.
     
  5. Velox
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    Velox Senior Member

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    For something like this, I'd suggest using a mostly fictional town. I do agree with WriterDude that some combination would be good -- create a fictional town with parts/a base from a real town [or more than one] to make it more realistic. Basically, if it were to be a story that takes place completely on earth, I'd suggest using a real town exactly how it is. Which can be really hard to do, and something that I probably won't do for everything, as I'll have to travel there and live there for a while to get a hang of the town to know it enough to write about it. Then more fantasy/sci-fi stories would be more fictional places as well, to fit in with the story.

    And before I start rambling too much like I'm beginning to, I'll just get to my point: A more realistic story should be as realistic as possible, in my opinion. For example, I read a book that took place in Los Angeles, and I was like, "hey, I know where that is." And that was cool to me. I wouldn't want to read somewhere that's "Los Angeles" and have it not exist. However, more non-realistic things [such as sci-fi, fantasy, etc.] would be better for more fictional towns to fit with the more "fictional" story, IMO.

    Like movies/TV shows. Well, not always, but for some. Like NCIS: Los Angeles takes place in LA County, and I've been to a bunch of places where that's been filmed. Whereas things like Lord of the Rings or Inception are filmed in some real places, mixes of places, as well as completely fake places to create that fictional place for the fantasy world.
     
  6. BillyxRansom
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    BillyxRansom Active Member

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    What about in post-apocalyptic fiction?

    Real town in a given state (real in its name anyway) but I picture the setting to be completely unreal (because it's post-apocalypse..).
     
  7. HorusEye
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    HorusEye Contributing Member Contributor

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    Using a real setting can sometimes force you to think in new directions with your story -- yes, restrictions are sometimes liberating and enhance creativity, as well as keeping you grounded in something realistic, but once it comes to the final draft of the story you can change the name into something made up, to avoid getting busted for bad research (never minding that readers won't find your characters at the location, either). Towns like Twin Peaks and Innsmouth have a feel of being real, although you'll never find those towns on a map.
     
  8. NecessaryPain
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    NecessaryPain Member

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    What are peoples thoughts on using a real City, and including 'mostly' fictional names and places within it?

    I ask because I want to use a real city in my novel, and try and be somewhat authentic with the police systems and departments. I may even include some real places. But I also want to create mostly my own world, and include landmarks that do not exist.

    Any thoughts?
     
  9. HorusEye
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    HorusEye Contributing Member Contributor

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    I'd suggest the same -- start with a real place and rename it when your story is done. The bonus is that it gets to be your story location and no one else's.
     
  10. NecessaryPain
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    NecessaryPain Member

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    Then I would probably have to fill in the gaps at a later date, placing the City inside a '51st State' or something.

    That will work, but I find using a real city name gives it a bit more authenticity, or more of a serious tone towards what I am writing. The flip side is that it may upset that 1% of my audience (providing it sees publication) who reside in that location.

    Damn, I am torn between two sides here. I may go with your suggestion for now anyway, it can always be changed. Thanks.
     
  11. BillyxRansom
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    BillyxRansom Active Member

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    Better to upset 1% of your audience than to not have an audience at all! ;D
     
  12. spklvr
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    spklvr Contributing Member Contributor

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    While we're on the subject, what do people feel about mixing fictional towns and real ones? What I mean by that is, my characters first live in a fictional town in California, then goes to Santa Fe, and then goes to a fictional town in New Mexico. I don't know why I did that. It just felt weird to just keep making up every town they go to.
     
  13. Gigi_GNR
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    Gigi_GNR Guys, come on. WAFFLE-O. Contributor

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    Fictional town is probably better IMO. You won't have to worry about fact-checking population, streets, etc. It's easier to create it all.
     
  14. ericb0redalot
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    ericb0redalot New Member

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    thanks for all the replies guys. :) Yeah, A fictional town seems to be the best bet. Perhaps a real city name, real state, but not a real city in that real state. If that makes sense? I don't want it to sound too fairy-tale-ish. Like someone said, I'm sure if I tried to recreate a real city from real life I would get busted for lack of research.

    SPKLVR - about starting in a fake city and moving to a real city - based off of what I've learned here it would seem fine as long as enough research about the real city is done for the setting descriptions and stuff. It would help the story seem just a little more realistic to the reader, and it would help the fictional places seem more realistic to them too.
     

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