♦Welcome to another edition of the Open Book Blog Hop!♦
Do you use real or fictional cities in your writing?
How do you incorporate them into the story?
Welcome back to another Open Book Blog Hop! The authors included in this ongoing series wish to thank you for your reads. Even more so, we appreciate that you share our writings with friends. If you’re new to the series, welcome aboard. The authors engage and impress weekly. Prepare to become a regular reader.
Writing fiction places an author in a unique position to be creative as far as locations go. While you may write historical fiction, you can still make up the village or town in which your story takes place. The overall placement of the scenes inside of a familiar state, country, or kingdom, helps to anchor it firmly for the reader. The literary license is a lot of fun.
For my historical pieces, I have done a lot of research to make them as authentic as possible. It is not always possible to get maps of regions during certain periods from certain locations, however. This can be quite a conundrum. I would advise a writer to not give up, if authenticity is something they’re seeking. There are universities and other entities you can contact to get the information you seek. Reach out. Don’t be intimidated. Persevere. The information you obtain is so worth the time.
The great part of writing in fictional fantasy and science fiction realms is that you can create the entire thing out of your own mind. The fun part of that, for those who like to go deeper, is uncovering the influences that helped build those worlds. Take a look at writings on Tolkien’s works, and many others. For the history nerds, it’s a treasure trove.
Having a foot in two genres, I like to bridge the gaps in ways that entertain me, and I hope will intrigue my readers. For my trilogy, the premise was that our world is a reflection of the cultures and spaces of a vast home-world that occupies a whole other dimension, along with multi-dimensions connected to it. The great part is that this is almost a self-reflective exercise. The world created is a creation of eons of cultural beliefs and ideas by thousands of creatives and historical figures.
Weaving these ideas into a tapestry that painted a universe was a lot of fun. It required a great deal of knowledge about the historic and cultural, but also a wide-ranging ability wisely choose each thread. This wasn’t something you could just throw it all in a pot, mix it together, and hope to whatever it would all come out. Painstaking construction is the only means.
The works were years in the making, from their inception in dreams of childhood and the study of history and culture, converging with writing experience and so on. Real as well as fictional converged to build the map of places–naturally. How else would a work that posits the reality we experience as created by a trans-dimensional home-world that created it first? The quirks are the natural progression away from the true reality to what we know–like a game of telephone.
Cities in my work require the gamut of items to make them realistic. For instance, People populate cities. People have culture, needs, and they’ve been using the space. Therefore, a city has wear. It also has iconography, language, and services. Not everything, however, will lay out the way that we do in our current cities. Deeper cultural ideas dictate the layout of places. Do your people have faiths/myths/values that would influence a city layout? Of course it does. Decide what those things are. The author needs to ask themselves those important questions. Setting serves as another character in the story, framing literally everything. Don’t shirk the duty.
Some may balk at the idea of this level of care (effort), but once you’ve worked with the process a couple times, it becomes second nature. You’ll thank me, because the care you take in this area will give your reader a better experience. Remember, when you write, the reader is who you’re serving. To what other ends do you bother to put pen to paper? I can tell my stories to myself without writing it down, and do so until I am satisfied that I have something worth documenting for sharing.
Writing authentic setting (cities/locations) takes practice. There’s a lot of pieces to think about that make the result feel realistic, whether they are real places or made up. Trek through the responses to this blog hop from the other authors to get additional tips and tricks, or just to learn about how differently or the same we authors work. Click on their articles below…
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Richard Dee says
Building a city from nothing takes a lot longer than it does to read about it. I can spend a long time on a couple of paragraphs about a place that only exists in my mind. If the reader believes that what I’ve created is plausible, it’s worth every minute.
P.J. MacLayne says
All you have to do is look around at our older cities to understand this. There’s a Polish neighborhood, an Italian one, perhaps a Chinese one. Each of these have their own history and culture, passed down in their families.
Stevie Turner says
Probably easier to create a fictitious town, I think?
Captain Maiel says
Sometimes, I think it is.
Samantha J Bryant says
As a reader, I feel like I can tell how much research the writer did, even when the setting is completely fictional. Everything just feels more thought-out and real.
Captain Maiel says
It’s true! And you appreciate it so much.