8 Tips for Creating Believable Fictional Towns by L.G. Davis

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L.G. Davis

Have you ever read a book and wished you could visit the town or city where it was set? While many books are based in real-life locations, others are based in fictional towns or cities.

There are endless possibilities when it comes to creating a fictional town, and it really depends on what you want. If there is enough detail, readers will be transported to wherever you want them to be.

Fictional towns will offer you a blank canvas. In a real town, you are limited by existing landmarks, buildings, and locals. By creating a fictional town, you have complete control over everything from the cityscape to the people who live there. This allows you to create a town or city that perfectly suits the story you’re trying to tell, and you also don’t have to worry about offending anyone with your portrayal of their hometown. This can be important if you want to avoid any potential legal issues further down the line.

Tips for creating fictional towns

Nanny's ChildWhen your story is set in a made-up town, it’s important that this setting feels like a real place with its own history, traditions, and quirks. Otherwise, your readers will be pulled out of the story and won’t be able to fully immerse themselves in your fictional world. Here are 8 tips for creating believable fictional towns for your novel.

  1. Choose a name that fits your story

One of the most enjoyable parts of creating your fictional town is naming it. You can get creative and play around with various combinations until you find something you like. If you don’t know where to start, there are several fictional town name generators available online that you can use. Google is your best friend here.

A good rule of thumb is to use names that are sensible and easy to pronounce. You want your readers to be able to easily remember the name of the town without having to struggle over it every time they come across it in the story.

  1. Base your town on a real place

Basing a fictional town on a real place can help you create a more believable setting for your story. It also eliminates the need to start from scratch. You can take certain aspects of a real place and alter them to suit you and your story. By taking this route, you also give readers a sense of familiarity.

You might even be lucky enough to have access to the town you want to base your fictional one on. This is a great opportunity to take notes on the things that make it unique. Pay attention to the details like the way the houses are built, the types of businesses that are there, and the way the people interact with each other. If you can’t visit the town you’re writing about, spend some time reading books or articles about it, or watching movies or TV shows set in that location.

  1. Incorporate real-life issues 

Your fictional town should also deal with real-life issues that your readers can relate to. Whether it’s crime, poverty, addiction, or something else entirely, make sure that your town feels like a real place with real problems. This will help your readers see it as more than just a backdrop for your story; it will help them see it as a living, breathing place filled with people who are just like them.

  1. Use the weather to your advantage

The weather can play an essential role in your story, especially if your characters spend a lot of time outdoors. Being familiar with the weather and how it relates to the story can really help you set the scene. If you’re writing a mystery, for example, a summer storm can be the perfect setting for a murder. The weather can also be an important tool for characterization because it can affect how your characters feel and act.

  1. Get to know the people

Fictional towns are made up of people from all different backgrounds. Create characters that live in the town and give them jobs, hobbies, and families.

Having memorable characters is key to making the story more believable. Readers want to know what the people are like and if they can relate to them.

What do they do for a living? Are they affluent, or do they struggle to make ends meet? How does this impact the story? For example, if the people of a town live in poverty, this could impact how they deal with a crime or an accident.

  1. Give the town a unique quality or trait

Give your fictional town a unique characteristic or quality that sets it apart from other towns. It may be the unique way the houses are built or how the people speak.

Adding interesting events to the town, such as a parade or an annual festival, can also make it come alive.

  1. Create a map of your town

Now that you have a name and some information about the town, you can start thinking about the layout. It’s a good idea to make a map of your town so you can keep track of places as you develop your story.

Including interesting landmarks can help you flesh out your fictional town. Landmarks are a great way to help readers visualize your town and give them something familiar to connect with.

Make sure to include the most important elements of a town, like a post office, a school, a church, a grocery store, etc.

You can make your map as simple or as detailed as you like, depending on the level of detail you feel is necessary for your story.

As you write your story, keep track of the town’s history, inhabitants, and details about the various locations.

  1. Write detailed descriptions

When you’re describing your fictional town, it’s important to be as detailed as possible. This means painting a picture with words so that your readers can visualize the setting. Include all five senses in your descriptions so that your readers can smell, taste, feel, see, and hear the town come to life on the page.

With the above tips in mind, you’ll be well on your way to creating believable fictional towns for your novel. Remember to do your research, create realistic characters, write detailed descriptions, and use sensible names when naming your town. With a little effort, you’ll be able to transport your readers into a whole other world that feels just as real as their own!

(c) L.G. Davis

The New Nanny and The Nanny’s Child are both published with Bookouture.

About The New Nanny:

New NannyA forged reference and a fake social media page is all it takes to convince the Mayers I’m the perfect person to look after their son Wyatt. Some people would be scared to move to a remote mountain village with a family they’ve never met, but it’s exactly where I need to be. Because Wyatt is my child…

My sweet little boy was taken from me. There are dark secrets in my past that will stop me from ever getting Wyatt back, but now I’m his nanny, I’ll finally get to raise him like he’s my own.

When I arrive at the Mayers’ house, I’m stunned by the striking glass family home and Robin and Paul’s lavish lifestyle, which I couldn’t afford in my wildest dreams. But Wyatt seems troubled. Robin claims he needs therapy, she says he barely speaks to her, and soon I realise that he’s rarely allowed to leave the house…

When Wyatt gives me a shy smile and begins to open up, it’s clear he needed me just as much as I needed him. We’re making up for the time we lost with long afternoons playing games and baking apple pie.

Everything finally seems perfect in my life. Until I find out what happened to his last nanny…

An utterly heart-pounding and nail-biting read that will have you racing through the pages. Perfect for fans of The Marriage, The Housemaid and The Family Upstairs.

Order your copy online here.

About the author

Author L.G. Davis (Liz) creates fast-paced, unpredictable, twisty-turny, psychological thrillers set in small towns. She strives to create characters that feel so real that her readers would want to meet them in real life. She loves to set her thrillers in small towns that, at first sight, look picturesque, but upon closer inspection, dark secrets, and dangerous minds threaten the residents.

In addition to being an author, Liz is a self-taught digital artist who enjoys transforming a blank canvas into anything she can imagine.

Her greatest joys in life consist of spending time with her family, reading a good book, watching a great movie, or daydreaming about the next story she wants to bring to life in the future.

Liz Grace Davis was born in a refugee camp in Angola, where she spent the first eight years of her life. She grew up in Angola, Namibia, South Africa, and Germany. She now lives with her husband and their two children in Vienna, Austria.

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