Basing your story scenes on actual places

- He rubbed at the beaded water while imaging the train whistle and the whoosh of steam from the pipe. The closest railroad crossing ran along the other end of Hanna Mill Road, past the dairy farm and old fort -

No, I write fiction. But this doesn’t mean I can’t use an actual location to build a fictional story around. It gives the story a solid foundation, a starting point that you can see and walk around and experience for yourself. When you develop real-life memories and incorporate them into your stories, those stories will become more real for your readers. They can relate to your writing.

The first two sentences in this post are from my finished manuscript, THE STONE MAN. I mentioned a place called “Hanna Mill Road.” The road is real, although I changed a bit of its name: Hannastown Road.

Along Hannastown Road are many dairy farms. You can smell the fresh cow manure a mile away. And yes, there is also a fort along the other end of the road - a fort I visited as a child during an elementary school trip.

I can close my eyes and remember the colonial wax makers, the bakers, and the blacksmiths. I remember the fairs and the flea markets and the hot air balloon competitions held in the nearby field.

I mentioned all these things in my story. A part of me lies among those pages. I recreated the smells, tastes, sights, and sounds for the readers to now experience.

There is nothing wrong with creating an entire fictional world. But if you have the opportunity to use an actual place to bring a realness to your story, use it. You have nothing to lose and everything to gain by giving your imagination a little extra help by using a real-life place.