Lansdale Landscape: Geography in Novels

I like Geography. I haven’t done it as a subject for four years. I haven’t needed it. At least – that’s what I keep telling myself…until now, when it has come to mind that I might actually need Geography in my journey to becoming a published author. Saying a novel is set in an alternate universe is fine, as is saying it’s set in Oxford (this is not as random as it sounds: I live 30 mins away from Oxford and know it well), but saying a novel, especially one for adults, is set in a fictitious town in England needs more than simply names. It needs position.

I had to make it hard for myself, too, didn’t I? By making the town both ‘urban’ and ‘rural’ (the MC describes it as both, having lived in different sides of the town) and by making it a ‘minor’ town to the one next to it. Oh, and it also contains a tower, a University and a beach. Therefore, I needed to shape a seaside town that stretches into a concrete populous. Hmm.

Have you ever struggled with making a fictional place into reality when ideas have overrun? What techniques did you use?

I’ve never professed to be a great drawer, but that seemed the only way to go about remedying my problem – because there’s only so much one can devise in one’s head. A pencil drawing and pencil colour of Lansdale Town…

…which is kinda like near Preston with a bit of Lytham, and ignoring the top of Wales. You know the place? xD

It’s, to be honest, a bit of everywhere at the moment; hopefully, having a physical base will stop me creating any more discrepancies. This may not be a perfect way of putting together a fictional location, but it helps me to get my head around the important bits that turn up, such as the Tower or the restaurant (now named ‘Shanghai Diner’)!

What makes a good common location in a novel? It’s certainly more than description; it’s feel and habitat. Just as characters should interact with objects, characters must interact with their home-town. They may know the quickest route home, but they may dawdle along the scenic route just to wonder why exactly they’re having this affair.

If I keep telling myself that, I might be able to put enough concentrate into location that I won’t end up with another contradictory setting!

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5 thoughts on “Lansdale Landscape: Geography in Novels

  1. Wow your town is so well planned out! For me, I tend to stick to describing places that I’ve been to or my hometown, and instead of using the same names I’ll rename everything. It’s just a little tactic to give the setting a more authentic feel, but then again it doesn’t help much when I try to vary the settings of my stories.
    Drawing it all out works really well! I’ve never done a whole town like yours, but rather smaller street plans and the such. Lansdale Town seems amazing! I haven’t read anything of yours for a while now, not since I stopped coming on Protag; I guess it’s about time to meander through your past posts 😀

    1. I guess that’s one way to do it, but one that I’ve never considered, strangely. I thought I’d go all-out for once. I mean, I do quite a few concept drawings, but I’ve not done a full town before, mainly because most of my stories concentrate on the internal ‘geography’, rather than what happens in a town. For this one, however, I needed to be able to compare and contrast the homes of the three MCs, their places of work, and the places where they meet up. Thus, a full map seemed the best option to get my head around it.
      Well, if you do come back to Protag, please leave a note. It’s always nice to know when people are reading my stuff, but also it means I can properly engage with the readership and thank people! If you’re interested, Lansdale is the setting of ‘Gorgeous and Mysterious’. It used to be a collab with Zillagirl, but she couldn’t do it anymore, so the style changes dramatically. The first part is rubbish, the workings of smaller me, and the second part is a bit limp, but I’m pretty proud of the third and final part, which I’m currently working on!

  2. I really need to do this for my novel. They don’t really travel that much per se in the first book, but they will in the second. It’s nicer to keep it straight in your head too. I’ve got a lot of technical details I need to flesh out with my rewrite. Rewrites are so crazy, they mess up everything–but in a good way. Good post, and I started a reply to your email and didn’t finish it, I’ll get on that I promise. Bottom line,I’m happy to help.

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