1. JQJohnson
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    JQJohnson Member

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    Reading a story set in a city you have lived in

    Discussion in 'Setting Development' started by JQJohnson, Oct 29, 2012.

    I have set my book in the city I currently live in. To me, it's fun to pull places I know into a work of fiction. When my fiance read it, he found that when he read the parts with familiar places, it pulled him out of the story somewhat. When he thought about it, he realized that he has never read a book set in a city that he has lived in.
    There's a million books set in giant cities like New York, LA, and London. I wonder if people in those cities experience the same thing when they read a book with their city's setting. If any of you have read a book set in a city you've lived in, how did you feel about it? Did you enjoy it, or did it take you out of the narrative a little?
     
  2. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    i enjoy it immensely, when done well... it's like being there again...

    but when lazy idiot authors have no clue what the places and people are like and get things wrong, i wish they'd be banned from ever writing fiction again...
     
  3. Fivvle
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    Fivvle Contributing Member

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    I read a book about time travel or something that took place in my city - which, by the way, isn't that well known. It was an odd experience to see the names of areas all around me pop up in the book.
     
  4. Thumpalumpacus
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    Thumpalumpacus Contributing Member

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    In the hands of a skilled writer, it's cool.
     
  5. chicagoliz
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    chicagoliz Contributing Member Contributor

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    It might take me out of the narrative a little bit, but that's the one instance when I like it. If a story is set in my favorite city or someplace I've lived, that usually makes me like the book more and might even get me to at least pick it up and see what it's about and then buy/read it. Of course, you better get the details right, because if something is clearly incorrect, then I'm annoyed. But I assume if you're familiar with the city, since you live there, that won't be an issue -- usually it's more of an issue if someone is writing about someplace they've never lived.
     
  6. svartalfheim
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    svartalfheim Member

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    As said, if you write about a place that is well known, people have a perception of a place and if you don't live up to it, they can grow to dislike it or even get bored. Unless it is done well and I mean well, it has to be something that people will find intriguing to see how you play out your idea. I personally would research an area that you want to write about, makes it a lot easier in the long run.

    However if the place your writing about is where you live, you will be able to give a grand vision of it.
     
  7. EdFromNY
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    EdFromNY Hope to improve with age Supporter Contributor

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    If it's done well, I find it brings me closer to the narrative. I have an easier time picturing the setting, and therefore the action, in my mind.
     
  8. JQJohnson
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    JQJohnson Member

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    Thanks everyone! That was very helpful.
     
  9. captain kate
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    captain kate Active Member

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    Trust me, I know what you mean. Only author's who have lived here can really describe my city. It's too (insert any negative word) with a high crime rate. I don't even think Thomas Wolfe, who's from the area, has tried.
     
  10. brynneth
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    brynneth Member

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    I thought it was fun, but I did find myself getting distracted a little bit by the fact that I knew the area. I would imagine it as my street even when it didn't make sense with the story. It was a little bit difficult to stay immersed at first, but that passed once the action started. Overall I totally enjoyed it.
     
  11. brynneth
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    brynneth Member

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    The author who wrote it did grow up in the same area, so he knew it really well. He also didn't overdo the details, which probably helped. It wasn't a loving guide to the city, it was just set there and had the right feel. It could have been weird if he had added a bunch of overly specific details that distracted from the rest of the story.
     
  12. Vertigo
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    Vertigo New Member

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    I live in a rather famous city on the northeastern coast of the United States. I've seen several films and television programs based off of this location, and I have read many books centered around it, too. Perhaps it's just that I'm used to them, but I actually enjoy it. Unless they screw it up, of course.
     
  13. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    which one?... boston?... i've either lived in or spent time in most of the famous and 'rather famous' cities on the northeast coast, if that excuses my curiosity... ;)
     
  14. Mikewritesfic
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    Mikewritesfic Senior Member

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    If it's done the right way, it can be a treat to read. If it's done improperly, with important details left out, then it will be a disaster.
     
  15. thedarkknight
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    thedarkknight Member

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    I like it when it's done in a natural way. I end up thinking "I know exactly where that is! I've been there myself."

    What I don't like is when someone just mentions the "guidebook" places or famous landmarks. It's obvious they haven't actually been there.

    I don't find it distracting.
     
  16. MindTheGap
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    MindTheGap Member

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    Several of my potential projects are set here in Orlando where I live. Considering what a big place the area is, most people do not know a lot about the outlying areas of the main municipality, or they automatically associate Orlando with theme parks and attractions. Not drawing major attention to both things I think will help.

    Now setting a story in my actual birthplace would be insanely dull for the reader... nothing goes on in Meridian, Mississippi, that is of current interest. Historical? Yes. But not so much current. :)
     

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