(I have just discovered DeadMau5. Uh oh, iPod!)

...It's possible I've played Goldeneye too much... Whoops!

Right! Getting back on topic.

Familiar Places

Life inspires you. The places you've been, the situations you've been in, the job you have... all of it will have an effect on your stories. This is a good thing, because experiencing life allows us to write about it, whether or not the world we create is based in real life or is a complete fantasy. Writing from experience gives what we write depth and realism.

My novel opens in my home-town, because if there's one city I know better than any other, it's the one I come from. I could probably set a story in London, I've been there enough, and I reckon I could pull off an epic tale of academic heroism set in Chapel Hill, North Carolina... 

Heroic.  Seriously.

Other than those places, I'd be very careful and go over a lot of photos and maps of the other places I've been in my life before I set anything in them.  If I was dead-set on setting something somewhere I've visited just once or twice, I'd try to go back.

I'd never set something in a place I've never been to because the person reading it who lived there would know.

It's like the new film version of Brighton Rock. As soon as I saw the trailer, I knew it wasn't Brighton (how could EASTBOURNE ever be Brighton?!). People who've never been here wouldn't know, but all us Brightonians do. The same can be said for writing. Sure, you can look at a map of New York City and know the roads and the famous places, but you've got to go to the city itself and experience its life and energy to make it come alive.

Just like this pigeon did!

However, just to be my usual contrary self, I totally think you can be inspired to create new places based on images, maps and videos of places you've never been to.

What do you guys think?


  1. Too much Goldeneye? Impossible, I say!

    I know we're talking about writing and not films, but I tend to notice the not-the-real-location thing in movies... I understand that they use sets for financial and logistical reasons, but sometimes it is definitely distracting! A good (yet totally not applicable to the whole "using sets = semi-ok excuse" idea) example... in the Disney film 'Pocahontas', they're always hanging out by a giant cliff waterfall and there is nothing even a bit like that on the Virginia coast. Research fail, Disney. (Although the historical inaccuracies in that film are so blatant that I guess they did not care!)

    So, this is a great point - at the very least, make sure you do a bit of research on your location(s)! :)

  2. Laura: I only notice if it's somewhere I'm really familiar with. And I always get so disappointed when I learn somewhere is a set and not a place I can visit. It's why I avoid "Making Of" documentaries.

    Ugh, lack of historical detail is one of my pet-peeves. Even down to the author referring to a film not released in the year the story's set in. It totally ruins the flow for me.


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