Your hometown? No, too many people know you there. That little town where you went on vacation last year? You loved the soda shop, the green grocer’s on the corner, the barber with the cool twirling red, white, and blue sign.
And what about the man at the post office? All the stories he told you about bank robbers and–wait a second. Was the main street through town called Main Street? Too boring. You want a street name that goes with the title of your book. Something more literary, more foreshadowing.
Scrap that town.
But wait a minute. Maybe not. Maybe that town is perfect. Except for the Main Street thing. And the fact that Pelican Lane–perfectly aligned with your book’s character arc, by the way–runs the wrong direction.
What’s a writer to do?
Simple. Do what you do best. Make up a town. Sure, draw from a town that you liked so well. But give it a new name. And while you’re at it, maybe it needs to be in another state.
I choose to set all my books in fictional towns for a couple of reasons. I don’t want to be constrained by what a real setting would be, and I like to make things up.
Blame it on the writer in me.
Here’s how I come up with the name of a town:
- I look at my book and my title and come up with something that goes with it. For example, in the fourth installment of my Carly Turnquist mysteries, Five and Twenty Blackbirds, Carly and Mike are at Mike’s college reunion in Raven Valley, AZ. The college team mascot is a blackbird, so Raven Valley was pretty close.
- I checked to make sure there wasn’t a Raven Valley, AZ by searching on the internet.
- I looked at towns near my desired setting and saw how they were laid out. I did this by some actual visits to the area, and you can also go on Google Maps and look at the Earth View of addresses in the real town.
So go ahead. Put on your thinking cap. And make up a town. Or a city. Or an entire world.
Leeann Betts writes contemporary suspense, while her real-life persona, Donna Schlachter, pens historical suspense. She has released five titles in her cozy mystery series, By the Numbers, with Hidden Assets releasing the end of June. In addition, Leeann has written a devotional for accountants, bookkeepers, and financial folk, Counting the Days, and with her real-life persona, Donna Schlachter, has published a book on writing, Nuggets of Writing Gold, a compilation of essays, articles, and exercises on the craft. She publishes a free quarterly newsletter that includes a book review and articles on writing and books of interest to readers and writers. You can subscribe at www.LeeannBetts.com or follow Leeann at
www.AllBettsAreOff.wordpress.com All books are available on Amazon.com in digital and print.