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Fictional modern-day city?

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I can think of tons of kidlit books that create fictional modern-day places, but they're always either small towns or suburbs. I've never seen a fictional city that was just a normal city. (or mostly normal... *smiles mysteriously*  :grin ) I'm not talking about crazy fantasy cities. Just a city in modern-day America that has features similar to New York or San Fransisco or Chicago or whatever you choose.
What are people's thoughts on fictional cities? Is there a reason why smaller fictional towns are so common, but when it comes to cities it's always a real one? Would it be offputting to readers if I wanted to use a fictional city, and why?
#1 - May 10, 2012, 12:39 PM

Probably because readers wouldn't know if Smalltown, MO didn't really exist. But if you try to tell them your story took place in Bigtown, NY they'd say, If it's such a big city why haven't I heard of it? It's not a big deal, but it requires a greater suspension of disbelief.

Plus, a big city like New York is so big that if you say something happened there, chances are it really could happen there or already has happened there. Didn't NY even have a UFO sighting recently that made the news?
#2 - May 10, 2012, 02:40 PM
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I think this might also have something to do with anonymity and the spirit of the work. You can say "this crazy thing happened in New York to these crazy people," and for the most part, it's probably pretty believable. New York is so big that anything is possible. Small towns, however, are more coherent, so if you're going to make specific claims about a small population, it's sometimes easier to create a town that COULD exist rather than point your finger at one that already does. 
#3 - May 11, 2012, 06:28 AM

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All of the above.

Also, pretty much everyone in America will recognize "New Orleans" "Dallas" "Chicago" "Atlanta" "Seattle" "San Francisco" "Boston" etc. They may not know the geography of the place or anything, but they'll instantly be able to imagine a landmark or some iconic symbol and cultural information about that city.  Plus, pretty much everyone in the WORLD has a point of reference for "New York City", "Los Angeles" and "Hollywood." I've been to remote villages in the mountains of the middle east where they barely have electricity and nobody speaks English... and they know NYC and LA.   These cities and their atmosphere already live in the imaginations of so many people. It's much less work to add an apartment building to a city that already exists, rather than build an entire city from scratch.

Suburbs and small towns on the other hand, are both kind of interchangable AND individually quirky. There, the atmosphere is going to be defined by the people who live there ... aka your characters. So it makes more sense to create a new one.

(Plus, in my small town, literally everyone knows everyone. If I set a story here, people would be like WTF THAT IS NOTHING LIKE US, or I'd get sued if it was too much like them!)

#4 - May 11, 2012, 06:49 AM
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This makes perfect sense to me now. Thanks so much, everyone!  :flower
#5 - May 11, 2012, 07:09 AM


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