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  1. Lonely Shadow

    Lonely Shadow Member

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    Coming Up With Fake Small Town?

    Discussion in 'Setting Development' started by Lonely Shadow, Jan 6, 2017.

    Good day, everyone. I'm currently plotlining a potential novel with a female character in the lead. The plot line coincides with a lot of my angel fiction. I want there to be a small *fictional* town in Oklahoma as the setting, and the way the male love interest is introduced is that he and his dad move into the house next door. I was hoping some of you could give advice on building that small town vibe like in the south. Those small towns where everyone knows everyone. There's like that one street with all the shops and such. What knowledge can you put on a rookie to teen romance like me? I've been writing gay romance most of my writing career, so I thought I'd branch out.
     
  2. Iain Sparrow

    Iain Sparrow Active Member

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    It may bore the hell out of you, but you should read, To Kill a Mockingbird... and another book that would serve your purpose, a story set in a very close-knit community, Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil. Both are Southern Gothic classics. Good reading!
     
    Iain Aschendale likes this.
  3. BayView

    BayView Contributing Member Contributor

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    I'm not sure what your goals for this piece are, but if you're planning to sell it to a major market I think it would be worthwhile to look into the expectations for a Small Town Romance (TM, practically). There are some fairly set characteristics - not just the typical small-town stuff, but things like "the heroine should do a craft" and/or "an elderly town resident should serve as a mentor to one or both of the characters".

    Strange but true.
     
  4. Iain Aschendale

    Iain Aschendale Contributed Member Contributor

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    Hmm, I was going to suggest Needful Things by Stephen King, but you're probably right, OP did say romance, not mass murder. Still, King does have a lot of experience in the small town horror genre, migh be a useful skim, since I assume there are reasons the romance is opposed.
     
  5. Seren

    Seren Member

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    I've never lived anywhere like that myself, so here are some book recommendations:

    A lot of books by Trisha Ashley, a romance author, are set in made-up small towns/villages. (Wish Upon A Star, Chocolate Wishes and Chocolate Shoes and Wedding Blues are the first things that spring to mind.) They're admittedly all set in England, and all about adults (I get the impression your main characters are teenagers) but they might give you a small town feel. The same goes for the Puffin Island trilogy by Sarah Morgan, set on a made-up island in the USA with a close community. Then if I look to YA fiction, I believe When We Collided by Emory Lord is a romance set in a small town, and Under Rose-Tainted Skies by Louise Gornall, Everything, Everything by Nicola Yoon, and My Life Next Door by Huntley Fitzpatrick are all about falling in love with next door neighbours.
     
  6. newjerseyrunner

    newjerseyrunner Contributing Member

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    I grew up in a small mostly farming community (Pennsylvania, though.) The town itself is usually small and well kept. Words like quaint come to mind. The town usually has a small park with holiday activities and Christian holidays and the Fourth of July are especially festive. The shop keeps all live in the town, often above their shops. In my lifetime, the shops go through waves where they're owned by a bunch of old people for a while then they mostly retire about the same time and younger almost fresh out of college locals fill in the gaps. There is usually a dive bar or two plus one that's a little more upscale, both serve corporate American beers and cheap liquors mostly. Often the best burgers in town though. This commercial area is usually just Main Street and maybe a half a mile strip. My towns Main Street was paralleled by church Street which was mostly churches and some other businesses that didn't have store fronts. A little further away is usually the most industrial part of town: auto shops, mills... usually connected to the commercial town is where most of the people live. It's all middle class families or wealthier retirees, mostly white, but more mixed than the surrounding area. The town itself tends to be fairly socially progressive because of the young business owners.

    Less than a half a mile outside of town, everything changes. Roads get longer and narrower and everything is less maintained. Everything spreads out to the point where you need binoculars to see your neighbour. Small villiages pop up where roads fork which are usually populated by lower middle class people or poor people. They're maybe fifty houses and a store, maybe a restaurant. People here also fundamentally change. The word nigger or 'hang Obama' in a bar wouldn't raise an eyebrow, they consider the young progressive business owners in town to be yuppies even though most of them were local.

    Most businesses end up clumping together out there but restaurants specifically hug intersections and isolate themselves for more parking. These tend to be the best restaurants in the town.

    Small towns tend to also have a mega corporate area that is usually isolated from the rest of the town by design. They have Walmart, it's just a mile or two out of town.
     

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