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!