Recently I witnessed this topic trend on one of my loops for historical novelists. Talk about a lively discussion. I’ve seen only one other subject generate as many comments–one I’ll be covering in an upcoming post, so you’ll have to wait. 🙂
There are pros and cons for novelists who use real settings as well as those who use fictional settings.
One group of novelists prefers to use fictional settings. They enjoy the ease of being able to layout towns and cities to fit their stories. Their choice, however, can disappoint readers who like to travel to real places in the stories they read.
Another group of novelists prefers to use real settings in their stories and enjoys bringing them to life for readers. They believe it adds authenticity and serves to introduce readers to places they might not see otherwise. A downside is that a writer using a real place must do considerable research, which takes time.
Where do I fall? I love reading stories that transport me to real towns of the past. As a writer, I love making actual places come to life in a reader’s mind. Since I thrive on research, this works well for me.
My challenge is choosing which interesting facts to work into my stories of the many I discover. I don’t want to include historical information unless it adds to the story. Who wants to read a novel that reminds her of a history text?
My debut novel, A Bride Opens Shop in El Dorado, California, takes place in the historic Gold Rush-era town of El Dorado. No surprise there, right? 🙂
Since the small community is only five miles from where I live, I was able to visit many times. In addition, I visited the El Dorado County Historical Museum where the knowledgeable volunteers in the research room answered my questions and helped me locate photographs of the town as it appeared in the 1870s.
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If you’re a novelist, do you use real places or create your own towns?
What is your preference as a reader? Real or historical settings?
Do your preferences change if the story is a contemporary?
Can you think of authors who do a great job with setting?