A few years ago I received an Advanced Certificate for Literary Fiction from the University of Washington. It was a very good program that helped me make the change from writing screenplays to fiction. We wrote a number of short pieces for the class and worked on our own larger works. For me, that was what I then called Erin Isabelle and the Wicked Uncle.
I set it originally in New York City. I struggled with the implementation of that idea considerably. I had gone to college near the city, but didn’t actually live there. Years later NY seemed a bit alien. When we read part of my piece in class, my struggle became obvious. Everyone had suggestions about the geography of the city. “Central Park is not like that” and “You forgot about Lexington” were some of the comments. That was all fine, but frankly none of it mattered to me. The concern for accuracy took me out of the story, as the inevitable errors would do to the readers as well.
My professor threw her head back and laughed. “Make up your own city. It will be more exciting, and you will own everything in it.”
This turned out to be a great idea. Not only could I create the city as it was in the story, but the history and character of it as well. I was able to make the city I wanted to live in – not as a known landscape, but a place where people make different decisions. Kudos to Woody Allen and others for showing NYC as it is, but I’m glad I’ve created my own world for my own series.
Certainly players of SimCity, CitiesXL and OpenCity are familiar with these pleasures.