Monday, January 2, 2012

Location. Location. Location.

I'm starting a new WIP and it is going to be based on one night in the city. New York City to be exact. As a New Yorker I'm just accustomed to calling it the city. It's habit. The first thing I had to decide was what part of the city will this story take place in. I could, if I wanted to, send my characters from China Town to Central Park and back,  but I've walked that before and I wouldn't do that to them. I need to focus on one specific area of the city and because my character will be attending NYU in the fall I decided to keep the story in that general area.

This is where the problem comes in. I have been to this area on numerous occasions. However, I am not as familiar with it as say the area near and around Central Park. I am online researching the area but I feel like I won't be able to fully create the scenes without walking the streets and visiting all the locations, I plan to put in the story, myself. So my question for you is: When you write a story do you choose a place that you are familiar with? Or do you or have you used a location you have never been to before and rely on research?

I remember watching an interview with Stephanie Meyer (Yes I am using the Twilight creator as an example) she said she researched an area that has a substantial amount of rainfall and stumbled onto Forks. She had never been there before, but she wrote an entire series based on the area.

Forks, though was an unknown town until Stephanie Meyer chose it as the place to house Bella and Edward. New York City is one of the most popular and recognized cities in the world, there is no room for error. I can't have the characters bouncing around from location to location and going east when they should be going west. I'll be ripped apart for my inaccuracies. I guess it wouldn't be fun if it wasn't a challenge.

I'd love to hear what you all think on the subject. How do you choose the location for your WIP's?


  1. I usually set my stories in made-up towns or somewhere I know really well (which is pretty much the one place I've lived in all my life). I don't travel often (yet), and it's keeping me back in terms of setting.

    It's hard work choosing a place you don't know to set your story in!

  2. I need to start making up towns. I've tried to in the past but I always get held up on the name.

  3. I totally understand this. I'm also writing a story that takes place in NYC and I have never actually been there. May have to schedule a trip (darn lol) to NYC before I actually finish it to check for accuracy :) Good luck with the new WiP!

  4. Jamie you should totally schedule a trip. I may be biased but I love the city. If you've never been your WIP is a good excuse to get you there.

    I feel better knowing I'm not alone on this matter. Thanks and best of luck to you too :)

  5. I've thought it might be interesting to try writing a story using only Google Earth for location reference--especially if it's set in a state or country that would be too expensive to travel to (e.g., you live in NY and you want to set the story in LA). I wonder how much information the imagination needs from pictures to recreate atmosphere. That would be part of the experiment. :)

  6. I wrote one story based in Chicago. Since I live in the Milwaukee area I'd been there a few times but not enough to really know the place. So I relied on the internet. I'm sure not nearly as good as being there in person.

    All my other stories are made up places. Which makes it oodles easier :) haha

    But in your case (since I know the premise of the story) I think you're right. You're going to have to go there... And I can't wait to read it!

    However...I've never been to NYC, something I want to change very soon. So I won't be a good judge if it sounds right :)

  7. Go, go, go to NYC. And remember to have some fun while you are there. Happy New Year and good luck with the new WIP.

  8. Colin: I used Google Maps last night and it actually helped. I didn't think of Google Earth. Thanks I'm going to check it out.

    Kelley: I did that with my last WIP. I had been to Newport, RI 4 or 5 times but most of it I had to wing. I'm seeing a trip to the city in the near future. I'm going to start writing but between starting and finishing I'll have to go. I can always add.

    Trisha: You can't not have fun in NYC :) There's just something about being in the hustle and bustle that makes me happy. Thank you and Happy New Year!

  9. I'm usually strategic when I pick a place. For my first WIP, I made it up. For the second, I picked the south for a reason.

    All the best and Happy New Year.

  10. Ladonna: I have never been to the South other than Florida but I don't think that really counts. I love reading books that take place there. Every time I finish reading one I want to plan a trip.

    Happy New Year :)