1. OurJud
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    OurJud Contributing Member Contributor

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    Too local a setting?

    Discussion in 'Setting Development' started by OurJud, Sep 9, 2016.

    I wonder if anyone else has the same hang-ups about setting their story on their doorstep. When I read other novels the places sound romantic and full of character; New Orleans, Los Angeles - even the little suburbs and areas of these places sound full of mystery, but when I do the same and talk of my own towns and cities it all sounds so silly. Manchester I can just about live with, as it's a major and vibrant city which has a similar ring to the other places I mentioned, but I feel oddly uncomfortable mentioning the little towns and districts on the outskirts. It somehow feels amateurish to be using these places as a setting.

    I know it's because I'm too familiar with them, but I find myself looking for alternative ways to introduce them, such as 'My home town...'

    Could it be, I wonder, that it makes my writing feel too much like an autobiography, heightened by my preference for a first-person narrative? I feel like reading (and writing, even to a larger extent) should offer escapism, but I don't feel I have the ability (or motivation for research) to write authentically about places I do not know.
     
  2. Shadowfax
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    Shadowfax Contributing Member Contributor

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    There's something exotic about a distant place, but, what is it that familiarity breeds?

    A few years ago I worked with a girl who had actually been born on Sunset Strip...actually, at a hospital at an address of somewhere around 16000 Sunset Strip, like miles out of town. So serve up your home town with pride; those San Franciscans will slaver over the quaint Englishness of it.

    The sun was just clearing away the early-morning mist as I rode into Upton Magna. The bells were silent as I passed the small parish church, the notices for forthcoming services a blur upon the black-painted noticeboard. A solitary dog-walker was the only sign of life I saw before I exited the village past St. Lucia's school. The last village before I was to rendezvous with my nemesis, the Punster, upon fateful Atcham bridge. Who, I wondered, would have the last laugh today?
     
  3. OurJud
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    OurJud Contributing Member Contributor

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    :D If only. Try:

    The rain water ran like little streams through the crap and debris littering the gutters, as I sat on the bus into Ashton. The toddler in the woman's arm behind me screamed blue murder all the way to the bus station. A tracksuit-clad youth in a baseball cap stood on a street corner, spitting onto the floor. I tried to forget him as I stepped off the bus and made my way to the job centre. Who, I wondered, would have the last last laugh today?
     
  4. Shadowfax
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    Shadowfax Contributing Member Contributor

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    Eeeeh, but it's gritty up North!
     
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  5. Solar
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    Solar Contributing Member Contributor

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    Corrected.
     
  6. I.A. By the Barn
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    I.A. By the Barn A very lost time traveller Contributor

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    I only write about places I know, either where I live, visited a lot (and I mean a lot) or invented in my brain. Got enough research going on with my time period, never mind location...
     
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  7. NiallRoach
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    NiallRoach Contributing Member

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    My novel's set in Burton upon Trent, so I know exactly the feeling. Familiarity breeds boredom, though, and I hope I can make it interesting to other people, at least.
     
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  8. Cave Troll
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    Cave Troll Bite the bullet, do your own thing. Contributor

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    I think if you want to write a setting of a familiar place is alright. It would be far more interesting to read a story that takes place in a less typical city, than the ones that get attention all the time. At this point there is a handful of cities that get overused to the point that they are no longer interesting because they are always the standard to go to as most people know of them to begin with (Stephen King likes to use a town in Maine for most of his stories, so we can equate that King has in a way stagnating his setting choices by sticking to the same 'place'.).

    So I think if it is a lesser known town/city, it would be interesting to add something new to fiction. It gets pretty old reading story, upon story set in a city that most of world is familiar with because they show up quite often in books and other media. :p
     
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  9. OurJud
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    OurJud Contributing Member Contributor

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    Thanks for the replies - @Shadowfax and @Solar exchange made me laugh :D

    I think we tend to forget that those who do write about their home towns in and around LA and NO, for example, may feel exactly the same as I do writing about my towns. But then maybe they don't.
     
  10. Laurin Kelly
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    Laurin Kelly Active Member

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    My WIP is set in my home city of Milwaukee. MC #1 moves there and a lot of the interaction between him and MC #2 (his love interest) is MC #2 showing him all the cool things there are to do here. People seem to think of Milwaukee as a stodgy blue collar town (I blame memories Happy Days and Lavern & Shirley), but it's actually quite a thriving metropolis these days.
     
  11. deadrats
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    deadrats Active Member

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    I don't think there is anything amateurish about writers using the surrounding they are familiar with in they're fiction. I think it's a rather smart move. So, I'm working on a screenplay and some of the advice I'm reading says to keep the cost down so it stands a better chance. And setting is a big one there. My setting is my backyard. A whole movie in a suburban backyard. And it's been a really fun project to work on. But in almost all my fiction, I usually have a real place that I know pretty well as my setting whether I specifically name it or not.
     
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  12. Sack-a-Doo!
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    Sack-a-Doo! Contributing Member Contributor

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    L.A. sounds more romantic because most screenwriters live there... or want to. Or by the time a film is in pre-production and the budget is worked out, L.A. is as far as the film company can afford to travel for location shots.

    Where was The Full Monty set? I think it was a romantic setting because of the story it told, not because of the setting itself.
     
  13. OurJud
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    OurJud Contributing Member Contributor

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    Yorkshire.
     
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  14. 123456789
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    123456789 Contributing Member Contributor

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    Writing is hard enough as it is. Until you're a literary rockstar, do yourself a favor and do everything you can to make your writing life easy. Write what you know, what interests you, and what you're feeling. It's much easier to write about somewhere you've been, so use that as a setting or pick a story that requires that setting.

    The less time you sit staring at a screen searching for sentences, and the more time you spend with words flying off your finger tips, the better.
     
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  15. OurJud
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    OurJud Contributing Member Contributor

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    Or researching an area with google maps...
     
  16. big soft moose
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    big soft moose Active Member

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    Sheffield, I think.

    Many books are set in British towns , Peter James' Dead Series in Brighton, Jack Harvey-The Resnick series in Derby, Stephen Booth the Ben cooper series in the peak district, Rebus - in glasgow , Quentin Jardines Skinner series in Edinburgh. and so forth
     
  17. big soft moose
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    big soft moose Active Member

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    its so grim up there that the kids have started a new drug craze of injecting MDMA into their mouths , its known as E by Gum :D
     
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  18. karldots92
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    karldots92 Active Member

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    That's the great thing about writing fantasy is you can make it all up and it sounds exotic:D
     

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