I wanted to set a short story in L.A so I naturally started doing the research- driving around in Google earth streetview, reading about it online etc. I learned as much as I could without actually visiting the place, but here's the problem: It really doesn't look like anything I wanted it to. My main influences are noir and gothic aesthetics from various media, and L.A. is just too bloody shiny. Even world famous ghettos are nice, and look like middle class neighborhoods in other parts of the world. Seriously, Compton has nice little houses with freshly mowed lawns in front of them. I live in much more gritty neighborhood in (eastern) Europe, and my family is middle class (if such thing truly exists here)! Reasons why I didn't just go for another city is because of geopolitical position, L.A. is close to Latin America, and Asia via the sea; also it's very multicultural are from what I learned via the research, so I have bunch of ideas to exploit this position. Plus I wanted to pay homage to all the works I enjoyed that were set there, from movies through music to video games. So I narrowed a few options: 1.) Make stuff up and use real names of places (like Santa Monica for example). After all, writing is about making stuff up, right? Even if it is internally consistent so reader doesn't lose suspension of disbelief. 2.) Come up with fictional names for parts of L.A county. Raymond Chandler did it in his Philip Marlowe series, to continue with above example he called Santa Monica "Bay City". 3.) Give up, scrap the idea and move on. So what do you think, what is the best option, or if all of them suck, please give me advice. Oh, and I searched around a forum, but while I see questions about doing a research about unknown countries, I didn't notice anything about "what if reality sucks after doing research" topic. Thank you in advance.