This is something I’ve been thinking about for a while: whether to use real towns/cities in my writing or if it’s better to create a fictional one. Or maybe does it depend on the story I’m writing? I have done both and have run into problems with both ways. So, I tried coming up with a list of pros and cons for both.
I used a fictional city for my WiP, Flames of Redemption(that I refer to as my fire WiP). I wanted to have it set around the area where I grew up and where I still live(two different towns but not too far apart). But, I didn’t want to commit to an actual town. I figured with making it up, I’d have some leeway on the details. But, would still have to keep it accurate for the area. But, I could still structure the city the way I wanted to. Of course, on the other side of this, it means everything is pretty much up to me to create. While this can be a good thing, it also meant I couldn’t just research some of the details.
I’ve also used some real towns/cities. In the western novella I’m writing now, I’ve used towns that are actually on maps from that time. But, very little of that story has actually taken place in either of the towns. But, in the first of my connected series, Slow Revenge, I had planned to set it in Pueblo, Colorado. Not sure why I chose that particular city. I actually started writing this story about eight years ago. This was just a year or two after I’d gone out there with my best friend for a graduation present(from my dad) and fallen just a little in love with the place. That was also when I just loved to write, but didn’t know so much about the writing craft. The story itself changed a bit when I wrote it this time, but I still planned to set it in Pueblo. Except I didn’t do too much research before I started writing. And I had the police department organized completely different than how it really is. Once I realized that, I knew I would have to make some changes. It would take a complete overhaul, and some of the conflict would no longer make sense, to keep it there. But, I wanted to keep it in Colorado. So, I considered moving it to Colorado Springs, which would still take some changing, but not nearly as much, or I may end up making up a city as well. Or I might even end up moving it somewhere else. And I think that’s really the biggest disadvantage of basing a story in a real town or city. There’s always the chance someone will call you out on any thing that’s not true for that place, especially if they know it better than you do. Although, one of the positives is that it’s all ready structured. Although I suppose that could be a hindrance as well.
So, what do you choose to use in your writing? Do you like using real places? Or would you prefer to have more room to make up the details? And the more I think about it, and as I wrote this, I’m thinking I may prefer to use fictional ones.