Writing Books/Setting

Advertisement


Question
Hi, Cathy!  Is it too risky for me to choose a real-life city or town for the setting of my story, especially if it's a city or town I have never been to before?  Or should I just create a fictional location to avoid any backlash from future readers?

Answer
Hi, Mia!

You can do either one. If you're writing fantasy, you can change nearly anything in a town in the name of "alternate reality." In your reality, that business didn't move to that spot, or the street name isn't right. But if you're writing contemporary fiction, you might be better off to create your own city/town unless you want to do a LOT of research. I've done both and I've found it's easier to create my own. Just search for big open areas on the state map you want to use and plop it down. Deserts, national parks and military bases are prime candidates for fictional towns because you can make the real place larger or smaller and readers won't much mind. For example, Yellowstone National Park contains 3,478 square MILES of land. Will anyone miss ten square miles or so for a tiny town? Probably not. Just put your town on the fringe of something and make that location part of the history of the town. Readers will be perfectly happy. :)

Hope that helps! Good luck with it.

Cathy

Writing Books

All Answers


Answers by Expert:


Ask Experts

Volunteer


Cathy Clamp

Expertise

I'm happy to answer questions about any aspect of writing novels, from the beginning kernel of an idea through completion. I can help with writing a query letter and synopsis to an agent or editor. I can explain publishing terminology and acronyms. I can also assist with questions about verifying the credentials of agents/publishers and how to proceed once you've been accepted for publication. I can teach the rules of formatting a manuscript, creating viable plots, characterization and flow in the following genres: romance, science fiction, fantasy, thrillers, suspense, horror, women's fiction, mainstream and mystery.

Experience

I'm a USA Today bestselling author of urban fantasy and paranormal romance for Tor/Forge Books. Along with a co-author, I've published fifteen novels (combination of mass market and trade softcover) since 2003, and have contracts for four more books through 2011.

Organizations
Romance Writers of America, Science Fiction & Fantasy Writers of America, International Thriller Writers, Western Outdoor Writers, Horror Writers of America.

Publications
Tor/Forge Books, Western Reflections Publishing, BenBella Books, Running Press, Wild Child Publishing. Many others.

Education/Credentials
My educational background is limited to real life experience of publishing novels commercially for the past five years.

Awards and Honors
USA Today bestseller, Waldenbooks Mass Market Paperback Top 20 bestseller, Nielsen BookScan Top 20 bestseller, RT BOOKreviews Career Achievement Award winner, 2009, Book Buyers Best Award for Paranormal, Romantic Times Best Werewolf Novel, Write Touch Readers Award, EVVY Best Historical Chronicle Award, The Lories Best Paranormal. Many others.

©2016 About.com. All rights reserved.