Real place names?

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Thread: Real place names?

  1. #1

    Real place names?

    I'm working on editing a draft of a novel I have set mostly in my old home town.

    From the setting on northern Vancouver Island on Canada's West coast, it is obvious from my description of the town and neighbouring towns where it is.

    I intend to change the name of the main town, but I was wondering if I should change all the others too, or should I just risk it and use the real place names.

    Right now Port Hardy has been changed to Nelson Bay, but I kept Alert bay, Port McNeill and Holberg as real names.

  2. #2
    Member Sir-KP's Avatar
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    Mar 2018
    It's up to you. But if it was fiction, I'd rather swapping the names with something else that have sort of relevancy to the original.

    Let's say: Alert Bay (I don't know the history behind the name btw) becomes Wary Bay.

  3. #3

  4. #4
    Quote Originally Posted by Ralph Rotten View Post
    What benefit is there to changing the names?

    I'm modeling some of my characters roughly on people in these same places, some of whom are still living, so in order to create some distance from the real thing, I was wondering if I should alter the names and possibly even the location.
    Last edited by MichelD; July 14th, 2019 at 06:19 PM.

  5. #5
    Something to look into would be if any of these places had former names you could use instead.
    K.S. Crooks- Dreamer and Author

  6. #6
    Keep in mind that when you change the venue, you lose the hometown advantage.
    You can sell a sell a book locally if it is written by a local author, or set in that town.

    Either way works tho.
    I prefer to keep the city name, and change the names of the players.
    It all goes to "Write what you know."

  7. #7
    It shouldn't effect your story too much either way, but if your story's plot is grounded in realism especially, or the town it's set in has a fair bit of impact on your plot then it would probably help you to keep the actual town name. The best scenario I could think of to provide you a reason to keep it is if it helps you connect to feelings and experiences you had and keeps you inspired.

  8. #8
    I've done it both ways in my writing. Sometimes I use the real name of the city, or at the very least allude to it using similarities and landmarks and whatnot. If I'm writing in one of my series, there are no real city/place names whatsoever.

    I would think it depends on the story, and what you are trying to convey in said story.

    ​"Strong convictions precede great actions....."

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  9. #9
    I'd guess that it all depends on what you want to achieve. If the plot centers around a major historic event, then it would be pretty hard not to use real place names, I suppose. However, if the story unfolds in a single location or setting, it might be easier to pull off. Also, the writer has a bit more freedom to play around with a fictional place because the reader won't be able to go back and research to see if such and such an event really happened or so and so did this or that. You could get away with a lot more from a technical standpoint, I suppose.

    For my novel, I made a deliberate choice not to use any place names at all. There are generic references to "the sea" and "the towns" - but most of the story takes place in a single setting and I wanted to create a backdrop that was minimalistic and stay with a more intimate lense without having to worry about anything going on outside this "closed" world.

  10. #10
    A short romance novel I wrote, centers around the Casa del Mar hotel, in Cozumel, Mexico. I never mention the name of the hotel, nor the dive shop attached to it, but for those who've been there, they know exactly the location! It's fun, because for my readers who've been there, it's like an inside joke.

    Without actually naming the city or town, you can have a LOT of fun with it! Fictionalize enough of it that people who are familiar with your locale will wonder...
    Her: (trying to be profound) If the only tool you have is a hammer, every problem looks like a nail.
    Me: (Hungover and really not in the mood) The only tool I have is a screwdriver, so every problem looks like I can solve it by screwing.
    Her: ....


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