1. tarynalicia
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    tarynalicia Member

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    Real Towns vs. Fictional Towns

    Discussion in 'General Writing' started by tarynalicia, Sep 24, 2013.

    I'm currently struggling on what I should do about the town situation.

    The novel is based in a small town in South Carolina. I picture it to be a small picturesque town that doesn't have a large population and it is picture perfect to the point it's almost too good to be true.

    I'm at a loss though because I don't know if I should take a real town with real street names and make it my own or if I should create a fictional town and build it from scratch. A few people I've talked to said they prefer real but how far can I go in creating fictional stores, street names etc. without creating an uproar because it doesn't match what the real town looks like?
     
  2. thirdwind
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    thirdwind Contributing Member Contest Administrator Reviewer Contributor

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    As a reader, I don't really care about the town/city being real or fake, though keep in mind that this is just one reader's opinion. Successful writers have used both real places and fictional places, so that detail alone isn't going to make or break your novel. So to answer your question, you can go as far as you like.
     
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  3. MsScribble
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    MsScribble Member

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    Base your fictional town on real ones, it will give you the most flexibility. But you need to be familiar with the places you are basing it on - that will help with all the details and the general feel of the place that is so important to convey with with your readers. I live in a river town, so I have a lot of fun basing fictional places on it.
     
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  4. shadowwalker
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    shadowwalker Contributing Member Contributor

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    Unless it's New York or Chicago or some place like that, the only people who will know if it's a real town anyway are the people who live in or near it - and how many of those will probably read the book? So make up a town, use other towns similar to the one you're imagining as guides, and go from there.
     
  5. Porcupine
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    Porcupine Contributing Member

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    In your situation, I think I would go for a fictional town. It will give you more flexibility. If you're at a loss how to name things, look at real-life examples and just mix or modify names to come up with new ones. I wouldn't see what a "real" town would add to the story, particularly if you're making it "picture perfect", which most towns won't be. How important is the town's geography and setting to the story you are writing?

    I generally use real towns, but then in my stories it tends to be important that the action is in a real city because the city itself is important and lends its assets to the plot (for example, if something has to happen in Paris, because that is the capital city of France, then I can't invent a fictional French metropolis, obviously!).
     
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  6. Jack Asher
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    Jack Asher Wildly experimental Contributor

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    It really depends on what genre you're writing. Noir, and by extension most mysteries, and urban fantasy all place a heavy emphasis on real and detailed settings. While they might sometimes change the names they are usually based on actual towns.

    Romance and other non-fictions don't really have an emphasis on setting, so their authors have more vaporous locations.

    The real question is: How much time do you want to spend making a fictional city?
     
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