1. Chickidy
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    Chickidy Contributing Member

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    Specifics specifics

    Discussion in 'General Writing' started by Chickidy, Jul 15, 2008.

    When you write where the setting is the real world modern day, how far do you go to make sure everything is accurate? I mean obviously all of us must do some research before a book so we don't say Chicago, NY or something ridiculous like that, but where do you stop writing facts and let the fiction begin?

    Personally, I get down to the very address of the house. It just sounds more professional to me, but there is a second reason. If, by chance, the person who lives in that home reads what I've written they might get seriously creeped out.

    My question is, when do you call it quits with the specifics?
     
  2. writinginsecret
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    writinginsecret Member

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    I like to get as specific as I can with landmarks and general layout but I draw the line at specific addresses or business names.

    For the same reason you stated "a person at that address reading your story may get seriously creeped out" and that person may get so creeped out that you find yourself on the receiving end of a lawsuit.

    Sometimes I will simply change the numbers in an address or street name along with other specifics like signage or house colors just to make sure that the "actual object does not really exist.

    Of course, this is for fiction. I cannot speak for non-fiction since I have not published any. My fiction is so close to my own reality sometimes that it scares me so I dare not write actual, real, non-fiction -- less my heart be exposed, crushed, bled-out, and left to whither in the heat of the midday sun.

    JL
     
  3. Charisma
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    Charisma Transposon Contributor

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    For Fiction:
    I never mention addresses, since for one this is realistic fiction, therefore you can't put an address which doesn't belong to the person. I may mention the area (e.g. He lives in Greenwich town in Manhattan). I often go through maps of the area, pictures, reviews of landmarks, and videos (if any) if I've never been there. Since both the novels I've written are set in places I've never been to (USA and Abu Dhabi), I had to do a lot of research work to make it look fitting.
     
  4. Wreybies
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    Wreybies The Ops Pops Operations Manager Staff Contest Administrator Supporter Contributor

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    I have read literature that spoke directly about places where I have lived. On the whole, they have been accurate in the broad strokes, and then fictional on the minor details. This has never bothered me. I would find it odd if someone wrote a detail as precisely as you have mentioned. I would find that kind of attention to be a marker of an important piece of information in the book, and then wonder why it never came into play later on.

    I was once horribly taken aback with a piece of literature that described my VERY classified job in the USAF in panickingly correct detail (The Crystal Palace.) The book was given to me by someone who was in my same career field and I was never told that this description was given in the book. After finishing the passage that described my job, the book felt like a black mamba in my hand. Needless to say, I neither finished the book, nor did I return it to the rightful owner. I was so freaked out, I shredded the book by hand and threw it away.
     
  5. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    no offense meant, wrey, but that sounds like an awfully childish reaction from one who was supposedly trusted with a top secret job in the military... the copy you trashed was only one of many, so what good did that do?

    chickidy...
    i'd avoid using exact addresses in fiction, unless it's a well-known building... people can and do sue for having their privacy invaded and worse... if you name an address and write of evil/illegal doings there, the real life residents will have a very strong real life case against you and you can find yourself working for them for the rest of your real life [as in being required to pay them the largest part of everything you will ever earn]...
     
  6. Wreybies
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    Wreybies The Ops Pops Operations Manager Staff Contest Administrator Supporter Contributor

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    Oh, I have to agree. But I was what, 19 at the time. What can I say? :rolleyes: I was more concerned with said copy being found in my posession than actually removing information from circulation.
     
  7. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    ah, the follies of youth!
     
  8. NaCl
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    NaCl Contributing Member Contributor

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    I understand Wrey's reaction. When I returned from Vietnam, I had been in a top secret unit engaged in God awful assignments. The government counseled (read..."threatened") me about all the ways they could send me to federal prison (they mentioned Leavenworth) if I so much as "talked" in my sleep about those activities. I was honestly more afraid of my own government than I was of the Viet Cong!
     
  9. Wreybies
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    Wreybies The Ops Pops Operations Manager Staff Contest Administrator Supporter Contributor

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    Yup. I remember only too well. *shivers*
     
  10. SonnehLee
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    SonnehLee Contributing Member Contributor

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    I use buisness names, especially if its a place my characters visit frequently (Blitz Cafe, St. George's Hospital), or even street names if its important. But a direct address I don't see necessary. But, as with everything else in writing, if you can make it work go for it!
     
  11. Cpn. Anon
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    Cpn. Anon Member

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    I don't like specifics, and i think that quite a lot of writers these days rely too much on specifics.

    I think you need to do a bit of 'research' (whether it's real world research, internet, studying people around you or just thinking about things) into how/why your character acts, and any specific event/place within your plot that you aren't completely confident with; understanding the ethos of the time or place. But for specific names/places, i'm not too keen.

    Regarding street names or towns; i think that fictitious (or unmentioned) places are more engaging with the reader. The reader paints their own backdrop (guided of course by their prior knowledge and the writers words), they aren't trying to emulate a reality inside their head, it's a world that's theres to imagine as they will.
    Think of a book you read that became a movie; it's very unlikely that the character you pictured looks the same as the actor in the movie. Now, if you were to re-read that book picturing the actor, it seems forced, because you're trying to manipulate (the image of) a real persons voice/movements.
     
  12. Pinta
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    Pinta New Member

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    I don't like going into specifics, because most of the time they're unneeded, and there's always the chance you're going to freak out some unsuspecting reader or even end up with a lawsuit on your hands. I don't like to use brand names or the names of actual businesses either.

    I had a small problem with this once: the protagonist from one of my old stories was a journalist working in New York, and I live in Australia. I had absolutely no idea of the names of any NY newspapers (ones that would publish the kind of trash that he wrote, anyway). In the end I made him work freelance.
     
  13. Flozzie
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    Flozzie Active Member

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    I don't go into specifics either unless it's really necessary, and I think I would use a ficticious adress if one was needed. As for brand names and names of businesses I think I would make my own up as well.
     
  14. xMissEnvyx
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    xMissEnvyx Member

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    I make up streets and sometimes whole towns in my stories. Of course they are fiction so it doesn't matter if it's correct or not. It all depends on the setting you are trying to create. I wouldn't go so far as to placing the Statue of Liberty in Egypt, but sometimes I just want to make a whole town so there's no boundaries.
     

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