At some point while writing a novel, the author has to decide whether to use real cities, real streets, real places, and real things. I’ve often thought it would be fun to create a whole new world such as fantasy or science fiction writers have to do. But since I’m not ready to embark on that journey yet, I just need to decide how much of the real world to use.
My books are set in San Diego with streets and buildings that many people recognize. I think that was a wise choice as I often receive comments from readers who have visited my city and they tell me how fun it was to read about places they had frequented. I make every attempt to describe these settings accurately. On occasion, I need a restaurant or some other building that requires a different exit, different lighting, or whatever. When that happens, I choose to make up the whole setting rather than distort the real one. I have one such restaurant in my first book, but most of my places are very real. All the other restaurants are genuine, the courthouses are genuine, and the streets and highways are all real.
My “legal” mind says “don’t distort the facts.” But then I remember I’m writing fiction. Hello. I’ve already made up a whole book, what difference does it make if I make up a set of stairs, or an information desk, or another exit? I realize, of course, that many people wouldn’t know the difference, but what if they do?
What do you do as an author? Do you use real places? If so, are the details accurate? As a reader, which would you prefer, or does it even matter?
Author, Attorney, Advocate