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Local Color- questions to ponder


JamesSavik

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Some questions to ponder:

 

How much work do you put into your setting?

 

Do you live there?

 

Do you do a lot of research?

 

Do you talk or interview people from there?

 

Do you look at Google street view to take a look?

 

Have you ever made a "field trip" to get a feel for your setting?

 

How much local color is too much?

 

Do you ever discuss local cuisine?

 

Local customs?

 

Local dialects?

 

Do you consider accuracy crucial?

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The Harry Rhimes novel sequence I'm working on involved finding a town/city in the geographical area, going for a Google-walk to get the feel for it, then working my own version of it. It gives me something to hook into in regard to seasons (ie, does the North Side get hit by snow more than the East, etc), quality of life (blue collar/white collar - up & coming over down and dying) and also economics (what businesses are thriving, what is has to 'import' - which also comes into local cuisine, customs, etc.

 

Accuracy to a point. You want enough to make it seem believable, not too much to become a geography/history/sociology lesson, and generally colour things out. The advantage of that is, in regard to returning to the same character/story set, you already have previous 'information' to refer back to - I have a Bicentennial Park which one character uses to think things over. Having already described in roughly in book 1, it was easy to move down the seasonal timeline, and also include things such as Holidays, etc.

 

I was lucky in that someone in another writers' group actually came from that city, however... we've never had any desire to discuss anything along those lines above.

 

Plus, I have kept away from actually naming the city in the novels, in order to allow me the freedom of creating streets and districts, etc.

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