In today’s blog, I am sharing what I have learned about designing the layout of fictional town.
Choosing a Name for the Fictional Town
The first thing you must do in writing a fiction book is, pick out the name of the town in which the characters will live. That’s easier said than done. When I wrote my first book, I had a hard time coming up with the name of a town that didn’t already exist. It seemed like every name I made up was already being used somewhere in the world as the name of a town, company, or special organization. It was like trying to pull teeth coming up with a name. I finally settled on a name that I felt comfortable with, to use in my books.
The Size of the Town
Do you want your characters to live in a town (small, medium, large) or in a city? That would depend on what the population of the town will be. Different sources have their own definition about what the size of a town or city is. Since none seemed to agree with each other, I opted to use a small town.
The Roads and Side Streets
When I came up with the names of the roads and streets that I wanted to use I took a sheet of paper and drew out where I wanted each to be located. One road goes through the main part of town, running north and south. Main street runs east and west. There’s a road at the south end of town that runs east and west. Another road is at the north end of turn that runs east and west. There are small streets that lead into subdivisions where people live.
The town has a cemetery. I named that road, yes you guessed it, Cemetery Road. No imagination there.
In the northwest section of town there’s a road that leads to a recreational area. I even show a set of railroad tracks and a depot on the town map that I drew.
More on the other side of this break.
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Law Enforcement and Necessary Buildings of the Town
Whether you use a police department or a sheriff’s office on depends on where the jurisdiction for each department lies. The Terryville Police jurisdiction were not limited to the downtown. In designing the town I choose to have Terryville’s boundaries extend outside of downtown proper and included the Haney Place Mansion, the Railroad Depot, and other properties.
As for the police station, I’ve added the jail and courthouse next to it.
Other Town Businesses/Establishments
There are certain businesses that a town needs to function. For the town in my books, I’ve added a fire station, town hall, a Baptist church, bank, drug store, a medical building which houses doctors, dentists, lab for blood work, etc., funeral home, a few eateries, newspaper office, a main grocery store, hardware store, gas station with an auto repair shop, bowling alley, attorney offices, junior high and high school, sporting goods store, and a few other places.
I added subdivisions where people live. You can’t have a town without the people.
A recreational area around the town is needed in my books. The main characters will often be spending some time there. It has all kinds of activities: swimming, boating, canoeing, fishing, camping, lodging, hiking trails, etc.
Different Town/Different Settings
When Rita Honeycutt and her family go to another town on vacation, I’ll have to draw a map showing streets and other information. I’ll do that as I get into writing that book.
I use the map I’ve drawn everything on to help me remember what business is where.
It takes a lot of time and effort to design a town where your main characters live, but I’ve found that it’s worth the effort.
Have a wonderful week.
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