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  1. Jesica
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    Jesica New Member

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    Place names in fiction...

    Discussion in 'General Writing' started by Jesica, May 16, 2010.

    I'm hoping for some advice/opinions. If you're writing a story of fiction, but it's based in a factual city, should the places that people encounter throughout the work - colleges, cafes, nightclubs, and the like - be factual or ficticious? For instance, if you were basing the story in London, should the cafe that the characters go to be one you know exists there in real life? :confused:
     
  2. Fallen
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    Fallen Member

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    Yep, by all means use real names and places. Just don't portray them in a bad way or you could be liable for slander. E.g. don't do the following: following the several cases of food poisoning and the thousand and one ruined underpants, Chap's chippy on Snog corner had recently earned the nickname Crap's Chippy . (Disclaimer: Chap's chippy is a fictional name in the land of Snog; any reference to real or known locations is purely coincidental on the author's part... (oh for godssake...))
     
  3. Mantha Hendrix
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    Mantha Hendrix Contributing Member

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    Yeah, absolutely. I wouldn't overuse the idea... it could get tiring for the reader.

    I find it can be quite good for the reader to say, (when the character are in a certain location). "Hey I've been there!"

    This is one of Dan Brown's appeals, and it helps draw the reader into the story a bit more by promoting a sense of realism... Some may consider it lazy, but as with most things it works if well done...
     
  4. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    you can do either... successful authors do both...
     
  5. Rei
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    Rei Contributing Member Contributor

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    It also makes it more fun for the people reading the book who live in the city. Maybe I feel this way because Toronto is so often filmed as other cities, but I do love reading books and watching programs set in Toronto without hiding the fact that it is Toronto.
     
  6. Unit7
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    Unit7 Contributing Member Contributor

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    You have no idea how excited I was when I learned Warehouse 13 was located in South Dakota. :D

    But I was also sorta disapointed when they made Souix Falls seem like some small town in Supernatural. :(

    Personaly I go for both. Real places and stuff will be mentioned in my writing, but I also use made up towns. I like using fictional towns because I can easily manipulate the history and local legends as I want them to better fit my story. :)
     
  7. thewordsmith
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    thewordsmith Contributing Member Contributor

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    Chap's Chippy ... isn't that at Slog corner? I think I've been there once or twice.

    Okay, as fallen points out, if you are going to be protraying the business in a negative light, fictionalize it, by all means. Otherwise, you absolutely want to make your setting as real as possible for your readers. (I still get a sour taste in my mouth when I watch old movies set in San Francisco where they show somebody running down a street and then they turn a corner onto another street which just happened to run parallel to the first ... AND TWO MILES AWAY!) Same for Chicago. Imagine my surprise to discover Shedd Aquarium was on the same side of the Lake as Navy Pier! It's more obvious in film but just as offensive in literature. Besides, what else are you going to call Buckingham Palace?
     
  8. Rei
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    Rei Contributing Member Contributor

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    You'd be surprized by how many movies set in New York use Toronto's Union Station instead of Grand Central Station, and it's irritating. It annoyed the heck out of me to read a book by a guy who grew up in Toronto, set his story in Toronto, used no identifying names, but wrote it in a way that made it recognizable to anyone who grew up in the city, if for no other reason than a specific reference to the subway system.
     
  9. Ro-J
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    Ro-J Member

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    In my opinion all of the above are correct, and having gotten some very good advice on this forum, I'd tell you to "follow your heart". (Or your writers intuition, if you will) In the end everyone is always just telling me to be true to myself and write for me and nobody else.

    Perhaps bear in mind that, should your book be a best seller (and for your sake I hope it is), that the good or bad publicity from your book will most definitely influence the public image of the place or places you've used in your book. You do not want to be slapped with slander charges in case business decreases for those locations due to a book stating that the character had gotten food poisoning in that particular restaurant.

    A clear and classic example for the impact your book can have is like Stephenie Meyer having based The Twilight Saga mainly in Forks, Washington... and now a whole lot of people visit this little town just for that fact. (Almost more than the town has capacity to handle.)

    Then you get some people that have a passion for trying to find mistakes and errors in other people's writing, so they'll research every single last line of your book for accuracy... So if you're using real places you know exist, then a little extra research will not do any harm either. It's actually fun to learn even more things about places you thought you knew very well.

    Keep us posted!! And good luck. Hope this helps.

    Like currently, my book is based in California strictly because it's a place I've wanted to my entire life. I'm from South Africa and don't know the first thing about it, therefore I am devoting a lot of time to researching each aspect of the place in order to do it justice.
     
  10. Meliha
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    Meliha Member

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    That's my place!!! :eek: That's it! I am suing!!!! Don't give me any of your 'I'm innocent' c*ap

    I think it depends on your story. The book I'm writing now is quite 'narrow' hence location is important and I give it freely. I do stay clear of naming/using enterprises which are for profit and owned by someone - get them to sponsor you and then promote them :) , tho I do name charities and I have my characters take part in 'voluntary activities'. However, my previous book (I've left this one to publish later; or try to publish later) the location is described but not named because of the point of the story. So I think it really depends on what you are trying to achieve with your story. If it's a story about a single mum, who moved to a small town and met a great guy and ... why not name the place and make it seem as if it really could have happened.
     
  11. Manav
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    Manav Contributing Member

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    I think the trick is to make the place authentic whether it is factual or fictitious. If you use a factual restaurant in NY and make them serve something normally not served in NY restaurants then, it makes no sense. To give you an extreme example, you can't include live octopus(which is a delicacy in Korea) in the menu of that NY restaurant.
     
  12. Reis
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    Reis Member

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    Well in any fantasy setting, it's bound to have a small trace of in real life that it originates from it. For the case of your example in London, I wouldn't go stress much on small details like cafe names; cities bound to change now and then where your setting will remain as is anyway.

    What you should pay attention are the details sticking like a sore thumb, like Big Ben, Bucking Ham Palace, London Bridge, two-story buses and the like. I suppose the cafe should at least sound something you'll come across in Britain like 'Ye Old Starbucks Cafe!' (yeah sorry for my lack of imagination :D)

    Of course, research and interviews can't hurt either. Accuracy is always a nice bonus but only push it as far as you can until it hurts.
     
  13. Jesica
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    Jesica New Member

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    Thank you so much for all the advice, everyone! :D I think I might "make up" places that are central to the story (but base them on real places), just incase I decide that something a little suspect has to occur at one of the locations in the future. ;) But add the odd factual bar, museum, park, or whatever to add some authenticity and to show I've researched a little. :)
     
  14. MissBelle
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    MissBelle Member

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    I think it is up to you. You can use real places if it makes the story better. Though as a reader, I have never been to London, so I don't really care if the little cafe in your story is real or not and I probably will not know if it is or not. So it is more for you than the reader, which is fine. But don't feel tied down by using real places like cafes or parks in your story. It is your universe you get to call all the shots. :)
     
  15. Ro-J
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    Ro-J Member

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    I agree with MissBelle
    :)

    Do it for you... it's what everyone's telling me too. LOL
     

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