Monday, April 29, 2013

Back to Business: Craft Chat about Fake Places

Understanding the PLACE in which my novel takes place is an important element of my writing process. I say place instead of setting because I am not merely considering climate, road names, etc., but also how a character FEELS about their world--their "sense of place." Here are some questions I ask as I write...
  • Does the mc feel SAFE in their surroundings?
  • How does the broad economy of the setting impact the micro-economy of the home in which the mc lives?
  • Would the story be different if it were moved to another address? Why or why not?
  • What imagery and metaphor drawn from the landscape can connect readers with the inner life of the mc and show how s/he relates to her/his world?
I prefer FAKE place names because I do not want readers to make assumptions based on nonfiction knowledge of a location. In AUDITION, I used "Jersey," to imply a fictional Northeast city, however many readers told me they assumed "New Jersey" anyway. So for the upcoming THE SOUND OF LETTING GO, I researched to make sure my invented town name did not exist in the real state (NH) of my setting. My goal is to create a New England vibe without conjuring a very specific picture or map point in readers' minds.

Given my (probably too extensive) theories on PLACE, I loved this PW article about imaginary countries in books: Check it out HERE.

Where do you set your stories? In a town remembered from childhood? The city of your college alma mater? A PLACE THAT DOESN'T REALLY EXIST? Why? How do you think this affects the way you develop your main character? And, what's your favorite fictional town?

And, speaking of freaky places, anyone else remember this?

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