As a writer, at least a fiction writer, I’m not required to tell the truth, the whole truth or really any part of the truth. I make shit up. That’s what I do.
However, I like to get stuff right. You know, the details, the facts, the locations, the reality.
But not at the expense of a good story.
It’s a fine balance sometimes.
If you are completely factual and realistic, you run the risk of writing a pretty boring story because, let’s face it, if you look at police work, there are a lot less car chases, interviews in stripper bars and shootouts with the Russian mob, and more paperwork, grueling stakeouts, and beers after work in stripper bars.
So when I arrived at Roy’s a setting in one of my novels, I quickly began to realize how far off reservation I’d gone.
Oh sure, it’s a pretty cool little local attraction but the café sat only two, instead of the 10 I imagined, the motel rooms were no longer being used and the pool, my lovely pool, was full of tumble weeds, (Ok, making shit up here, I actually don’t know what dead plants were in it) and the church, the lovely church that features in my story is pretty much a ruined mess, at least what I could see by jumping up and peering into the back window. No stain glass. No worn wooden doors. No pews inside.
Plus, and perhaps most damaging, was that the stop was FULL of people. Not exactly the out of the way location I had written about.
So, do I change the story, change the location, delete a few tables, get rid of the pool?
No. Others might. Not me.
It’ll stay as written. Oh, I’ll add a few more cool details that I was able to see, like the old cash register, the pictures on the walls, the worn look of the countertop, the oil stand beside the food, but why break something that’s working?
If anyone is interested, the place I invented was inspired by Roy’s. But it’s not Roy’s. It’s Earl’s.
And it exists in my mind.
This is sounding great – all places exist in your mind – you should see “my” Oak Bay compared to what’s really on the map! Way to go, Joe – keep on truckin’! Or 300in’!
Your setting you described is definitely not broken and what’s in your mind is way better than reality!