Those of us who write fiction have the advantage of manipulation when it comes to storyline. We can create environments that are very similar to places we have visited or we can use what is familiar to us and limit our creativity to our characters. It just depends on what the author is most comfortable doing.
You as an author—would you rather create your own version of Smallville and work from there or would you rather use an establish city such as New York or San Francisco and focus more on developing your character? Keeping in mind that you need to research an establish vicinity to create credibility.
I think by far I'd prefer my setting to be an existing place for standard fiction. I remember reading John Grisham's The Broker and thinking, "Wow, this guy really researched his setting." (it was various locales in Italy). That being said, I don't feel comfortable writing about an existing setting unless I know it intimately (in my case, Detroit). I think that's why writers like Stephen King stick to the lands they know if they aren't the 'researching type' (i.e. James Michener).
For fantasy, I'm free where it comes to setting. And that's a blast!
Great question! I even ponder the setting with non-fiction writing. I have thought of writing about an event in life I experienced back in '78. Since memory is what I have to work with I visited the place the event occurred hoping to be able to recall the actual setting. Today it is quite different as 'progress' did occur. The road the event occurred on is the same, however the landscape itself has changed entirely now being a condo complex and not the small ranch that was there. I kinda' got stuck as what to do since I wish the written work to be accurate. I guess I may have to be vague and generalized now. That causes me to ponder realism being accurate and question how accurate must 'it' be to be non-fiction.
In the same regard I have been off and on writing a fiction story which takes place in late medieval times of Great Britain, Scandinavia specifically Sweden, and ancient Greece. I have been taking great latitudes with the settings with that story. Then when reading much of Alancaster149 works for that period for Great Britain I realized how loose the story would have to be regarding setting so as not to cause conflict with historical facts. I kinda' became stuck with how to approach the story in order for it to have some resemblance of believable. Then again I ponder how much does the historical significance of setting need to be for 'plot line' and character development which is where the story itself is with its message. After all it is fictional.
I have done it both ways. Overall I think depicting a real city versus a created city is basically the same in terms of difficulty ad creativity. Capturing and creating "reality" are both difficult.
An experienced, well known writer once told me "write about what you know" and I've always followed that advice. If I'm contemplating writing a piece on something that interests me -- but I have no first hand knowledge -- I abstain. Obviously, this may not be good advice for all writers -- particularly those who write "how to" pieces but as a story teller it's always worked for me.
It would be especially pertinent for "how to" writers to write about what they know. I enjoy doing research because it expands my knowledge and when I want to write a story about something unexplored by me I like to accumulate as many facts as I can. My readers in the past have enjoyed it.
I agree! Creativity is very ensential toward fiction Writting. Before I write a fiction story, I have to see it rise in front of my face. It helps me out a lot!
I have never been outside of the Caribbean but most of my stories are based on the US. I just completed a 90,000 word novel for a client and it was based in Australia!
Give me a map, tell me the kind of social environment you want and I create any scene. I also love making up my own places..lol, It's easier to make up places about Jamaica, because most of my readers are not from Jamaica, but when it comes to other places I need to have a visual of the place, unless it's a fantasy, supernatural or paranormal story....then I go wild with the imagination...lol
I tend to mix a variety of locations I know very well and then construct a fictional setting. It's real but not real and it works for me.
This is why I have such a passion for writing. It allows a person to stretch the imagination.
I was the leader of a group of very talented writers. We did a Purple Prose Project and everyone had a super great time adding exciting paragraphs to the story. It was just amazing how each contributor was able to pick up where the other person left off. We lived in different places but our common interest was our love of writing. I really, really miss that group.
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