Original fiction project – week of 9/25/2011

Dis/inhibition: I decided I just wanted this final proofreading over, so I set a goal of doing one chapter a day (and twice on Sundays!), and today I’m on chapter 40 out of 43. So go, me. Still on the fifth character illustration, though. Those I just get picky about, lol.

New story: I started to make good progress on chapter 7 after spending some extra time on figuring out mythology and backstory, then I hit another snag. My old novel, Dis/inhibition took place in a fictional town quite a bit like my home town, but not actually my home town. I prefer fictional settings, because if you need a particular location, you just invent it. My new story takes place in San Francisco, and while there’s a bit of play possible, if you go naming actual streets and intersections and then claim there’s a building/bridge/park there, or that a building/bridge/park was there a century ago, you can’t do anything too wildly untrue.

Well, I suppose you could, but the further from reality you are, the more you are writing about alterno!San Francisco rather than real San Francisco. And I always had the impression that one of the tools of urban fantasy was to use the accuracy about the real world settings to make the fantasy elements seem more compelling, more as if they could be true as well. And I don’t want to veer from that, not if I don’t have to. So I am having to step back once again and think through every setting I use–do I need it in the story? Really need it? Do I need it to be there?

I want to get this chapter done by mid-month so NaNo prep can start. Back to it.

9 thoughts on “Original fiction project – week of 9/25/2011

  1. Laurel K. Hamilton grew up in the same St. Louis suburb where and I did. She uses real places to start with (such as real streets) and a native can tell where she goes off the map, but it’s not too obtrusive. She also makes use of places that exist mostly as St. Louis legend like the caves downtown. They do exist, but the old stories about them are almost entirely fiction.

  2. Hamilton has a little more leeway than other urban fiction writers in that her Saint Louis already *is* alterno!Saint Luis in virtue of the fact that the supernatural is out in the open, which is not the case in the real St. Louis as we know it.
    I guess I am talking more about urban fiction where the supernatural is hidden. By making your depiction of a city (Los Angeles, Chicago, London) more realistic, someone can imaging that vampires, demons, or wizards really are lurking in the shadows of the actual city.

  3. some people in using real places are big sticklers for it being right. I had an agent tell me ‘who cares? it’s fiction, make it up’ (and that about decided me not to use him). Other authors have made author’s notes saying we bent the town a bit to make it fit when in reality it doesn’t. I guess it’s up to you

  4. Well, when you decide the general locale ahead of time and search around for the sort of building/business you need to have for the scene *in that locale*, you can almost bet on that not working.
    So my thought now is, first draft, I just figure out what I need, then in before second draft, I’ll scout around for locations of those things and just change the location.
    That won’t always work out, either–sometimes you won’t find everything you need in any one location, and then you’ll have to bend reality or change the story, but I am trying not to worry about it too much in the first draft. I just hope I don’t invest too much in something I’ll be forced to completely rewrite because it makes no sense whatsoever.

  5. A first draft is what it is. Which is why I generally don’t let anyone read them. They generally are full of holes until you figure out what’s really important.

  6. What frustrated me back in the days when I workshopped rough drafts was that so much time would be spent on flaws I was already aware of. I wanted to wait until I had what I thought was a fairly polished piece, because then the critiques would tell me something I really *didn’t* already know.

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