What do these locations have in common?
- The Shire
- Sleepy Hollow
- 100 Acre Wood
Give up? No, of course not. These are well known locations in famous literary works. Places that conjure up memories just from the mention of the name. You know what it looks like and who lives there. If asked you could probably describe what it looks like. As a writer, the ability of a reader to form a connection with the setting/location is ….a dream. It’s more common for connections to be made with the characters. But sometimes the location is so vivid and so much part of the story that the reader forms a connection.
If I could book a plane ticket to The Shire, Narnia, or Hogwarts- I’d do it in a heartbeat. Not so much Panem. You get the point.
There are “real world” examples as well. If I mention:
- New Orleans
You’re mind forms an image. In Geography class we call that place. That image is based on photos you have seen or events you have heard about. Or maybe you’ve actually been there. I’ve never been to Roswell or Salem, but I know enough about those two cities to be dangerous! As writers, we fill in the blanks.
When we plot our stories, we have to decide on a location. Real or imagined. We have to define the geography and populate it with people that has a history and culture. I think it’s easier if you just make the whole thing up. No one knows if you get it wrong and there’s no angry emails about misrepresenting their town. But once created, you have to name it. Or maybe the name comes first…
Here is a list of real places that scream to be placed in a story:
- Burnt Corn Creek (Alabama)
- Dog Town (Alabama)
- De Funiak Springs (Florida) This is my personal favorite.
- Sulpher (Louisiana) I’ve been here. Two guesses on what it smells like.
- Deadman Reach (Arkansas) You know you want to write a paranormal set there.
- Nothing (Alaska)
- Poopout Hill (California) Hmmmm.
- Skeleton Creek (Idaho) Who’s up for Trick-or-treating here?
- Roachtown (Illinois) Ummm, no thank you.
- Big Lick (Kentucky)- Kentucky has a lot of Lick’s!
If you want to read more unusual names click here. Word of warning, some of the comments are a tad… off. It makes you wonder what the founders of these towns were thinking.
What’s your favorite fictional/real location?