I was going through other writers’ blog posts on how to create a fictional town and a lot of the information was extremely vague so when it came time for me to start really working on the details of my new story’s setting I was still lost.
That old saying “write what you know” will dictate to me that I should write my characters in the town that I grew up. This sounds like an ideal situation for me because I already know what’s where and certain types of characters to place in the background. But, the sad thing is, I haven’t been to my hometown in years, like really been in there. I’ve visited for a few days, but haven’t really stayed and paid attention to the new things that have entered the town.
Like… how there’s a new stoplight that’s just a blinking red light and nobody knows what it’s for.
I still follow my hometown’s community page and it’s the best sort of entertainment I could ask for. I strongly encourage you all to do this, especially if you’ve moved out of your hometown. Plus it gives you those extra characters you didn’t know you needed.
I’d like to write this in the present and since it’s been a while, I figured I could build a town that’s like my version of my hometown. Folks who grew up in the area the same time I did, will get the references to certain spots, but there will be different things added to make it a new town.
So, how am I doing this?
First things first: name the town. I went through a huge list of town names and I didn’t really like any of them. Ones I did were to well known and people would be confused as I was describing my town and it wasn’t anything like where they live. So… I kind of just took a palace’s name in England.
Did I mention this is set in New England? It’s only fitting, right? Maybe there is a town with this name in New England and I glanced over it. Still kind of cool. And no… it isn’t Buckingham (that would be too obvious).
Next, create the town. What’s the demographics and population size? What is it like to live there? What is the best restaurant to eat at? Where do kids like to hang out? What events make this town popular? I had to make up a specific event because it was super relevant to my story’s plot. Add in the town’s main source of jobs (if there is one).
Then, create the schools, because it’s really important (especially for a YA novel). I only had to do the high school because that’s where the main character goes. I named the mascot, picked the school colors, etc. I chose the school size. I’m still working on their best sport, I’m thinking of going with basketball because it has to do with the story line. I also want to mirror my high school. We had technical based courses and that included the fine arts program. This program was very important to me getting through high school and I’m making it equally important for my main character.
I’m also figuring out what the community is like. Are they close knit? Is there a family feud? Who’s the well-liked family in town? Who’s the most hated family? All these create the feel of what it would be like for the characters living in the town. Where do they fall in the spectrum of popularity in town (especially if it’s a really small town)?
Thanks for reading!