Can you write fiction?

When you write fiction, have you ever tried writing about a place that does exist, but you haven’t been to? I understand the rule of writing what we know, but fiction is made up, so with all the resources available to us nowadays, why not write about somewhere you haven’t been? Elizabeth George in Writing magazine July issue, says that it’s not possible to write properly about somewhere you’ve never been; she toured Cornwall for her crime novels. I saw a t.v. programme, where Ian Rankin did the same in Scotland. They are great writers, but on the other hand, can we have a story going on, and use a fictional version of a place, using information you’ve gathered?

I’ve had a go on my website, on the prompts page here
The story needs editing again, but I’m having a go at writing from a male viewpoint, and a grumpy old one as you can see. My children’s story, written from the viewpoint of a nine year old boy, here.

I’ve been tidying the house as you can see above, (no, not really, it’s fiction) our house is more lived in than that. Looks a good setting for a story though doesn’t it?

new haircut.

Wish me luck, I’m off to work tomorrow, my first day at the helpline, looking forward to that.

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Author: susanjanejones

I write articles and short stories, and this year I've become a pocket novelist for my weekly.

18 thoughts on “Can you write fiction?”

  1. Aw I enjoyed reading that (I’ve always fancied Lake Garda) and I loved the last line, it left me with a smile 🙂 I’ve often written about places I’ve never been to – I get about a lot in my imagination 🙂

    Good luck tomorrow – I hope you have a good first day xx

    1. Thank you Teresa, and it means the world to me that you enjoyed reading a story of mine. I’ve been enjoying your stories for years. I read the first in the ‘never love a stranger’ collection the other day and it had me reaching for the tissues again. Thanks for your good wishes. I’ll let you know.xx Glad to hear that you get around in your fiction as well. I’m packing my bags as we speak. Think I’ll go for Canada next:))

  2. I heard a good tip about writing fiction about a place you’ve never been to – rather than doing a whole load of general research about the area (obviously you need to do a bit of general), find a few smaller very specific things, like maybe there’s a local dish, or a native tree to the area, an annual local event – things that are unique to that area and that maybe those outside the area wouldn’t really know about, and then you can really bring some colour to the writing by descriptively weaving those things in which will also give it some authenticity if anyone from the area reads it.

      1. Vanessa, thanks to you I’ve found my lovely blog followers in the spam cupboard. Oh, that’s awful, thanks to you I can reply. What’s going on!! I thought everyone was quiet.

    1. Hi Vanessa, that’s a top tip. I’m going to write that down and keep it in mind. Oh, there’s no stopping me now. I have actually been somewhere other than the midlands. We lived in West Africa when I was young, so I can set a story there with accuracy. Thanks for popping by with such good information, and hope you’re not in the spam cupboard. Oh, off to have a look and let you out:))

  3. I have written stories based on places I’ve visited, ones I’ve made up and real places I’ve never been to but have researched. Good luck with the nes job tomorrow.

    1. Oh, thanks Wendy, so it is possible, yippee, I’m off round the world. Thinking about it though Wendy, our Daughter has been all round the world, and told me all about everywhere, and has photo’s, so there’s no excuse not to is there? Thanks for your good wishes.

  4. Oh wow – your blog’s gotten more beautiful!! I’m braver writing from a different perspective but don’t have the confidence to write about places I’ve never been to!

    Good luck with your new job!!!!! Enjoy! Take care
    x

    1. Hi Kitty, glad you like the new blog design, and I’ve just finished my first day at the new job. Loving it so far, and I’ve joined face book, all part of the job. I’m new to writing about other places as well. All good fun though eh? Love to Charlie and Gumtree xx

  5. If we can’t write about places we’ve never been to then the writing world must be full of astronauts and time travelers and there really is a platform 9 and 3/4s at King’s Cross…

    If a place is real and we wish to set a whole novel there then it would be sensible to visit the location if we can, but I don’t think we need stick too rigidly to writing only about places we know first hand.

    1. Yes, and maybe we could really disappear down rabbit holes, and visit the land of oz as well eh Patsy? As you say, a whole novel would need to be more detailed, but fiction stories can take you almost anywhere can’t they?

  6. I enjoyed your story, thanks for sharing! I haven’t been to Lake Garda but my parents enjoyed a holiday there. They told me all about it and showed me lots of photos, so I feel as though I know it.
    Your post has made me realise that I tend to give fictional names to the places where my characters live but I allow them to visit real places. The novel I’m working on now is set in a fictional village (which looks like a combination of several real villages I know well) but I mention that it’s near Cambridge so that might give readers a bit of a clue what it’s like.

  7. Hi Linda, that sounds like a good idea, then nobody can come back and say, ‘that’s not right’ etc. I think that’s what M.C. Beaton does with her Agatha Raisin series, which are fantastic escapism, all set around the Cotswolds, and she includes London and Birmingham, and then a few other made up places.

  8. Today, with the internet, it is possible. I wrote about Genoa without having ever been there. In fact I have never been to Italy, although I am 3/4 Italian. Traveling there was not an option for me at the time. I know that it took months of research, pictures and paintings and online virtual tours … wondering if I could pull it off, but all-of-a-sudden something clicked and I felt like I had been there … lived there … understood something vital about the place, especially in the period I was writing about. But who knows if a Genoa native would think so – perhaps I’ll find out someday. So, I do not only think it is possible to write about a place you’ve never been, but know it is! Saying that, the sequel takes place in an English village (Wroxton, Oxon) where I lived for 16 years. But still the internet is such a help as it has been 23 years since I was there.

    1. Thank you for this Diane, I’ve read your book, and I was convinced you’d lived there, and I could picture Genoa as if I were there myself with the quaint streets and alleyways and the boats in the harbor. Now I know it is possible, so thank you for enlightening me. Now I can write with confidence, and coincidentally, I feel I want to write about the lakes area of Italy as well. Lake Garda in particular, not sure why.xx

  9. I find it difficult to write about places I’ve never visited. Yet I believe it is doable. We can do all the research we need to do. We travel in our minds. We can take trips to places we’ve never had the chance to visit. Fiction is a gift. Imagination can take us anywhere…

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