The Fine Balance of Location Porn

I’m really just hoping the word “porn” increases my search engine hits. Otherwise, don’t worry, this is a perfectly safe for work post.

I once read a story that claimed to be set in Boston. Not a lot of description went into the location so that this could have been Boston, Massachusetts or Boston, England. It’s fine because it was a short story and it was well written enough that setting it in Anytown, USA and putting a pretty label on it was just a personal annoyance.

When I write a story that’s set in the real world, even if it’s a shorter work, I try to include as much description of that area as possible. Sure I’ll take creative liberties with locations. I transposed a community retirement center all the way from South Burlington, VT to Revere, MA in The Perfect Cover, but I included enough of the big things that I doubt anyone will get militant over the minor changes.

As with anything, it’s all down to personal preference. How much does the story depend on where you’ve set it? Would it be easier to make up a city and populate it however you see fit, or do you absolutely need the template of a place you’ve been to before?

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