1. JackLUFC
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    JackLUFC Member

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    Real or fictional places?

    Discussion in 'Setting Development' started by JackLUFC, Jun 7, 2012.

    Hey,
    I'm writing a new novel and would like some advice. Basically, it's a crime novel and my main character lives in New York City, but in the book he's on vacation somewhere in the north-east USA still, but I'm unsure where yet. I was thinking Martha's Vineyard or maybe Atlantic City but I'm not sure whether it'd be libellous to set a crime novel in a real place? I know for larger cities it's okay, such as NYC and London, as many have been set there previously, but I'm unsure of the general protocol on smaller towns? I wouldn't want to write it, only to find out that what I've written was libellous.
    Thanks for any advice and help.
     
  2. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    towns don't sue writers for libel unless they're unfairly portrayed as undesirable places to be, thus scaring off tourists and such... crime occurs everywhere, even on martha's vinyard and especially in a mob-run, casino-based place like AC!

    all you have to do is an amazon search among crime novels for settings in those places and you'd see for yourself how common it is for them to be the settings for fictional crimes...
     
  3. JackLUFC
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    JackLUFC Member

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    OK, thanks.
     
  4. chicagoliz
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    chicagoliz Contributing Member Contributor

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    I think you should only set a novel in a specific town if you really know that town or it is important to the story that the action occurs in that particular town. If the setting is an important part of the story, you need to describe the setting well, which if you are doing in a real place, you need to be very familiar with that place. So, if you are from Martha's Vineyard, or have spent a great deal of time there and know it well, go ahead and describe it. But if you haven't, and you just need a general type of place -- a seaside resort town, for example, why not just make one up? You don't necessarily have to name the location. You can hint at it. Remember, beyond libel (which I really don't see as an issue here), you want to keep your story believable. If you leave out some minor detail or get something incorrect, you run the risk of people who are familiar with the actual town totally discounting what you say based on little things -- hey! No one would take that road to go there! or "That restaurant's been closed for years!" or "We don't have a parade on Memorial Day -- what's he talking about???" etc.
     
  5. JackLUFC
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    JackLUFC Member

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    Cheers for the advice, I'll probably just set the story in real places.
     

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