Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Question from a Writer - On Setting

Scott, here is a question my CP's and I have been arguing about for a while. I have a contemporary story that I am starting. Should I set the story in a real town or should I set it in an imaginary town? Would love your insight...

This is a great question. Sorry to say this but there really is not right answer on this one, but I think there are certainly the pro's can cons that we can look at.

I have heard a lot of people taking the approach of picking a town that is imaginary because they simply don't want to run the risk of people in that town coming after them for misrepresenting the town. In reality, unless you are coming right out and slamming businesses in the town or real people in the town, the chances are this is not going to happen.

Taking the imaginary city approach can give you a chance to really build a world that will truly showcase your characters and your stories. You get to create the entire world and make it exactly what you want. This is a positive. Of course, the negative of this is that you have to really know and understand your world inside out. You have to know the layout of the city, the distances between locations and certainly what every one of the buildings look like.

Taking the real city approach gives you the built in world building. There is nothing you have to create and as long as you know the city you want to put the story in, you should be good to go. I know, for example, I personally love reading The Agony and the Ecstasy because I lived in Florence and he does a fantastic job of making sure the city is accurately represented.

One approach you might want to take is to use the real city but create your own businesses. Use the parts of the city you need and ignore the parts you don't need.

In the end, the answer is simple. What is going to work best for your story. Don't be afraid to use those real cities. If your world is stronger, then create your own.

Hope that helps!

1 comment:

  1. In a story I am working on I did have a specific location in mind and used maps to understand distance and landscape. However, I decided the best approach was never reveal the location I had used, but instead allow the reader to imagine whatever works for him, his own city or imaginary. So in the book I never specifically state where the story takes place. Thus far the feedback is positive. The story is quite heavy and challenges a current concern, therefore I decided if I wanted the story to truly touch people to allow the reader room to insert his own truth and make it his own.