Tuesday, September 09, 2008

Location Location

Some of my settings are based on real places, but sometimes I change the names. In two cases, I wanted authentic croft names, but not actual croft names (i.e. houses in which people might actually be living).

The solution manifested itself by luck when I happened upon an old parish map hanging on the wall of a local pub. From that I was able to identify a number of derelict crofts, and thus select genuine-sounding names (for they were indeed genuine) without fear of upsetting anyone.

For villages and towns and cities, I generally use real names, except in the case of one particular town – which had absolutely nothing to recommend it – for which I fabricated a name, although I don't really know why.

Do you pluck your setting(s) out of your imagination, or use real places? Or both? Do you use real names too? If not, how do you go about making them up?

15 comments:

Calistro said...

In novel 1 they're all real places in London although I have made up the names of pubs/clubs (and possibly some bus routes. SO don't want to have to fact check those!)

In novel 2 it starts Worcestershire/Gloucestershire way and I need to come up with a fake town name. At the moment I'm using a real towl name but, when I've finished the first draft, I'll go through and do a search and replace (don't want to offend anyone by using the real town as my MC is desperate to leave it!).

JJ said...

The places I'm using to inspire the ficticious village where my story takes place are real, but I will invent a name. I rather love being able to invent names of places. I pore over maps and build names from parts of existing places. I don't, funnily enough, much like finding sirnames for characters though.

Lane said...

Great names on your map. Isn't Robolls a lovely sturdy name:-)

The village in my story is an amalgamation of two village names in Suffolk. The setting is also an amalgamation of villages with a bit of 'creative licence' thrown in.
If the characters leave the village, I have them go to 'real' places.

Helen said...

I love choosing place names or spottng them when I'm out and about, when I think 'oh yes, I'll have the name of that pub thank you' (as happened recently).

Jumbly Girl said...

My novel is set on the North York Moors and I have been vague about town and village names as I don't want it to be too tied to a particular place - so the main setting is a moorland village that isn't quite Goathland and the other is a seaside town that isn't quite Whitby or Robin Hoods Bay.

I think linking a story tightly to a real place can work really well but it's not what I wanted for mine (or maybe I'm just too lazy to do the neccessary research :0))

Leigh said...

Calistro - Mmm, causing offence is my biggest worry too. But you've made me smile by admitting to not wanting to do the research!

JJ - Oooh, maps. Don't say you're a map-lover too? Surnames are difficult, I reckon, because there is so much good/bad association with people you know/know of.

Lane - Robolls is great. I've used that one (although with its modern spelling/pronunciation!)

Helen - Pub spotting? I like the sound of that. Is it necessary to go inside and sample the product too? Please say yes.

Jumbly - Oh, but the North York Moors would be a lovely place to visit for research! You don't have to be tied to one place, just go anyway!

Paige said...

Location has probably been my biggest problem. I ummed and ahhhed about where to set Book 1 for AGES! I was going make up an imaginary place but I couldn't think of a decent name so then I figured I just set it in Dundee. God. A book set in Dundee. There's not much hope for it!

In Book 2 and 3, I managed to make up places. I'm not sure if they are any good but hey, they are only at first draft stages so I can change them if I need to.

JJ said...

OH I DON'T BELIEVE IT. I was just playing with the widgety thing and I was thinking - these questions are so ME... this one will mean something.

AND I CAME HERE - HURRAH.

Carol and Chris said...

I've just arrived via Caroline's wonderful widget. Your photo's of Scotland have made me homesick (I live in the same neck of the woods as JJ...actually about a ten minute walk away from JJ)....only two more weeks to go and I will be able to see Scottish mountains (that's if it's not too grey and rainy!!)

C

Leatherdykeuk said...

I love maps.

Laverstone is a fictional town set in a very real Hertfordshire. Real places are mentioned often and I photograph road signs and street names to create the 'reality' of the town.

Pat Posner said...

I usually take a real area and set a fictitious village/coastal resort in it. Like Lane, if my characters leave their village they'll go to a real place.
Jumbly Girl, I use the Yorkshire Moors and Dales a lot as a setting and I've also used Robin Hood's Bay 'under another name' in a series of children's books. I've used where I live as well.

Lady in red said...

I have a tendency to have real places in mind possibly a mixure of more than one and choose a name that is different but has some kind of connection to where I am thinking off so that i don't get myself muddled up.

but then I only write short pieces having never yet found the plot for a novel.

hi got here by the widget

womagwriter said...

I'm another short story writer, and tend to have a real place in mind but not actually mention it by name. If a name of the place is important, I'll usually make one up and Google to make sure it isn't actually real.

I spent hours once trying to get the right Irish place name - didn't want to actually say it was in Ireland but it was important so I decided on Bally-something. I think I went through about 10 different place names before ending up with Ballycullen. Which I like. Might set another story there too.

Anonymous said...

Not sure if you realise that a 'croft' is actually a piece of land not a dwelling, so you can't really have a derelict croft, would have to be a derelict croft house.

Zinnia Cyclamen said...

Like Womagwriter, I make them up and then Google them. Although there are marvellous place names in England that nobody could make up. Great Snoring, anyone? Haselbury Plucknett? Bishop's Itchington?