Thursday, 28 July 2011

Location, Location, Location

I have been doing some work this week on location, in particular the location for my longer piece. I need to think of a working title for this but will just refer to it as my WIP. This is not to be confused with the two children's stories I have started and all of a sudden moved away from as I have got carried away with this idea! I will get back to them one day though!

I have realised my 'teacherness' is coming out as I learn more about writing. I am a teacher, I need to plan. I need to learn. I read up on things before I start writing anything. I need notebooks and post its and pens. I kind of like this about me as a writer. I do worry though that I am putting off actual writing of my WIP as I am TERRIFIED! What if it is no good? What if it doesn't come out the way I am intending? What if I tell the story in a page and have no where else to go? Anyway, you will no doubt hear all about this in the coming weeks so I will get back to the point of my post.


I have been toying with where to set my story. I live in a seaside town in Devon and whilst I don't want to write about my particular town, I want to write about a town. With a city nearby. London will appear at some point because I love London when I visit but I don't feel I can write as someone who lives there.

Now, in terms of the town I am thinking of making one up. One that has the characteristics that anyone who knows Devon and its towns will recognise but in this way I am free from details and facts. There is also a bit of scope for artistic license with the history of the place which would be fun to make up. I drew a map, it is a wonder to behold. Not really, I can't draw for toffee. But I know how it looks.

My plan is to use aspects of the places I know mashed together to create a new town. I did read somewhere (in my 'learning phase'!) that a problem with using a imaginary place is people are used to reading about places they know. If the story was set in London people would automatically have a picture in their head. I guess with careful description you could get around this? I guess this isn't an issue in stories where you build your own world. Check out Jamila's world and inspirations -

I have not ever really consider writing fantasy or building an entire world but after seeing these outfits I may have to consider it! I want!

So, after a long rambling post my question is, do you make up your story locations or stick with what you know? Or do you write about places you have visited but you don't necessarily know really well?


  1. I have to laugh at your comment about notebooks and post-its and pens, because they are my obsessions. I type faster than I write, and so I typically lay down most of my work in word processing documents (Scrivener is my favorite program right now, but I've been using 750words as well). Still, I love the visceral feeling of the pen in my hand, and the ballpoint tip gliding over the paper, and sometimes I "think" best in post-it notes, which are usually covering the entire surface of my desk during major brainstorming sessions. And I never leave home without my writing notebook, because inspiration strikes at the strangest and most inopportune times, and I hate being unable to capture ideas when I can.

    I wouldn't worry too much about taking the time to read and study up on writing -- ultimately it will make you better! Just try to balance out the studying and writing, that way you're not barring yourself from jotting down ideas as they come. At the moment I seem to be working in a 'layered' fashion: writing out conversations and pivotal scenes that pop into my head, enough so I can lay down the basic skeleton of the story. From there, I start embroidering: description of clothing and setting, transitions that I need to start stitching things together, shorter scenes that I need to use to fill in the blanks. It seems to be working, at the moment, at least!

    Anyway, to your question. As you point out, my fantasy WIP, along with my racy erotica fic, require a lot of world-building. I've been pulling bits and pieces from historical civilizations (the erotica fic seems to borrow heavily from ancient Rome, as depicted in Gladiator). The steampunk tale, however, is set in San Francisco in the late 1880s, and although steampunk allows me to engage in some alternate history-making, I've been trying to get a sense of what the city actually looked like, so I can tweak little things here and there.

    Anyway, I think either way works -- using a place that you know well (because then it might be easier to describe and to make it see real) or creating a fictional place from a hodgepodge of ideas.

  2. Did I know you wrote racy erotica fiction Jamila?! How exciting! Probably all writers are into stationary...writing almost gives us a reason to indulge!

    Thank you for your comment. In my first draft I am going to create my own town and see how it goes1 Thank you for your comment.