1. BallerGamer
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    BallerGamer Active Member

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    Oblique setting?

    Discussion in 'Setting Development' started by BallerGamer, Jan 6, 2013.

    In my current short story I don't really give specific names to certain places, like coffee shops, colleges, towns, cities, etc. Although this is deliberate because I want to instill the effect that when people are reading it, they're thinking of their shops, colleges, towns. If I put a real life name to it, I thought it may take this effect away a little bit. I don't think this would fly in a novel, but for a short story I think it would serve, although I'm curious what others would think of this? Would this technique work or would readers be annoyed that I don't give a name to all these locations?
     
  2. Terry Turton
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    Terry Turton Member

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    Hi BG i have a few thoughts about this.

    I would call the town or city something you don't have to make it exciting just a run of the mill name you call it for sake of argument springfield.

    Now most people when they read if you said "We headed to the coffee shop" i would think costa,nero,starbucks.
    I think most towns have a McDonalds,Subway,Starbucks in them so i wouldn't spend too much time fine tuning the details of what and where these buildings are.
    I think you say coffee shop and it would be one of the above the reader is picturing.Or a generic coffee shopdepends on where they live.

    Location is not important i think just describe the street in simple terms just mention where you are and for example if it's buisy is there a time of year your storys set,is it night or day?.

    If you texted your friends and wanted to meet up in the town you wouldn't say "Meet me at McDonalds the one on the corner of ---- and ----" you would say "Meet me at McDonalds the one near the library at ------- oclock" landmarks not location in my opinion.
     
  3. Terry Turton
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    Terry Turton Member

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    Hi BG i have a few thoughts about this.

    I would call the town or city something you don't have to make it exciting just a run of the mill name you call it for sake of argument springfield.

    Now most people when they read if you said "We headed to the coffee shop" i would think costa,nero,starbucks.
    I think most towns have a McDonalds,Subway,Starbucks in them so i wouldn't spend too much time fine tuning the details of what and where these buildings are.
    I think you say coffee shop and it would be one of the above the reader is picturing.Or a generic coffee shopdepends on where they live.

    Location is not important i think just describe the street in simple terms just mention where you are and for example if it's buisy is there a time of year your storys set,is it night or day?.

    If you texted your friends and wanted to meet up in the town you wouldn't say "Meet me at McDonalds the one on the corner of ---- and ----" you would say "Meet me at McDonalds the one near the library at ------- oclock" landmarks not location in my opinion.
     
  4. evelon
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    evelon Active Member

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    For a short story, I tend to think that not naming them is good. It's true that readers attach their own interpretation when details are omitted. This is ideal for a short story when you don't want to be taking up word count on describing something if the description is not an essential part of the story. If all the action happens in the coffee shop etc. and you need to create an atmosphere for that to take place, that's different, but if your characters are just visiting, it's not necessary.
     
  5. chicagoliz
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    chicagoliz Contributing Member Contributor

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    It's absolutely fine to do, in a novel or a short story. However, there is a difference between not naming a particular town (keeping it anonymous, so that you can change it to suit your needs) and making it generic. There is something to really describing a setting and making it come alive to the reader, so they get a feel for your setting. They might be familiar with similar settings and they may have visited your location and will get a good picture of your location.
     
  6. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    there's no need to name places in a short story, unless the plot makes it necessary...
     
  7. BallerGamer
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    BallerGamer Active Member

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    Thanks for the responses :)
     
  8. RUBIKSCUBE
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    RUBIKSCUBE New Member

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    I was thinking about this very same issue actually. I'm trying to write my first novel at the moment and for some reason have a strong inclination not to explicitly state the name of the city it's set in. I think there's a few reasons for this:

    Firstly, it's a story about a vigilante group and makes references to gangs and locations etc. I didn't want to be bound by making everything fit into the template of a real life city as I was concerned it might interfere with the plot development and setting, not to mention the additional time double checking the settings were authentic.

    Secondly, because my story is centred around injustice and crime, I didn't want to associate some of the darker themes to a particular real life place. I want the reader to feel like these themes could apply to the place they live, and a nameless setting could help that aspect I feel.

    Also, the protagonist in my story is a confused individual who's trying desperately to make sense of his life and himself. I thought that if I used a cold and heartless urban environment with no name then this could help convey his sense of statelessness. He's a pariah really and I would like to remove the thought of having a home from the story. I thought this could be easier achieved if the reader didn't know exactly where the story is set. I considered using a fictional city but opted against it. I was concerned that would take away from the universality of the setting.

    So I've opted for an unstated location, but not an underdeveloped one. That's caused issues with the dialogue because I don't want to include a specific vernacular for the same reasons. I don't know if any of that makes sense; I'm just trying to rationalise my thoughts on this because I've been thinking about it a lot! It's just my gut instinct really.
     

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