Sunday, August 16, 2015

A Vision Of Reality

As writers, we must envision the venues our stories take place in.  Mmost of my novels are set in the world you and I inhabit, so I have to find a way to describe real places that readers might actually go.  Since traveling around the country, and indeed the globe, can be both time consuming and extremely expensive, I do most of my visiting on the internet.

Through articles and pictures, I get an idea of where my story is set, and I try to describe it in a credible way.  Unfortunately, that doesn't always match up to reality.

On a cross-country trip to my family's new home in Kansas, I got the rare pleasure of visiting where several scenes from my novel are set.  Akeldama's first main plot thread takes place in Salina, Kansas, so my wife and I visited the city and toured several of the areas the vampire battles take place.

(There are supposed to be pictures here, but they won't transfer from my phone for some reason, so you'll have to imagine them)

For starters, I learned I'd been pronouncing it wrong.  I thought Salina was pronounced with a short 'I," like the way Selena Gomez says her first name.  However, as we were walking through Indian Rock Park, a local informed us that the "I" is long, like Sal-EYE-na.  Kind of torched my first vision right there.

I also found that one of the places the book is set in, the aforementioned Indian Rock Park, is not the barren patch of land on the edge of town I thought it was.  In fact, it's smack in the middle of several neighborhoods.  There are houses clearly visible from parts of the park, which takes away a little from the effect I was going for.

And the lonely part of town I envisioned where a fight breaks out between a vampire and the main character?  That part of town isn't anywhere near as lonely as I thought from Google.  In fact, it's a bustling area of shops and restaurants.  Once again, that detracts from the scene.

So why do I care?  Mostly because making a place real adds to the story.  We've all heard tales about folks visiting Stull Cemetary or La Push just to get closer to the story they love.  Imagine a fan's dismay, indeed their outrage, at getting to one of their favorite spots and find it's nothing like it was described in the book.  An author stands to lose credibility quickly in such an instance.

I plan to slightly alter my novel to accommodate this information.  I will acknowledge the housing close to Indian Rock Park but set it against the indifference of the community.  As for the diner, I found an abandoned lot about half a mile back from the main area originally set that will serve equally as well.  It might not appease everyone, but sometimes settings have to bend to the will of the writer, and sometimes the writer has to bend to the will of settings.

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