The Creative and Realism of Fictional Towns
"You've seen them. Little towns, tucked away far from the main roads. You've seen them, but have you thought about them? What do the people in these places do? Why do they stay?" -Rod Serling's opening narration in "The Twilight Zone" episode, "Valley of the Shadow"
Fictional towns. We read about and see them in countless movies and television shows. Like the quote above that asks about small towns can be also asked about fictional towns. Have you ever thought about them? Why do they exist? Are the people there just like you and me? If you're like me then you ask these things and you wonder and perhaps also like me you've created your very own fictional town. Whatever the reason maybe I want to take a closer look into fictional towns, why they were created, their backstories if they have any and how real they are compared to real towns and cities. Also, I'll delve into where these fictional places supposedly are because after all they may be fictional but where they are may just be close to where you live...
From Gotham City to Castle Rock, from Wayward Pines to Salem's Lot; these are just some of the most famous fictional towns in which we are familiar with and know very well. But why exactly do fictional towns exist? Why are they created? Well, there are a couple of simple reasons for this. The first reason is that since the story that's being told is fictional and everyone in it is as well then it's only fitting that the place where everyone resides and everything happens is fictional too.
Another reason may be simply that the author wanted to create their own fictional town. I suspect this to be the reason Stephen King created his many towns in Maine while also wanting to show people where he is from. Another reason may be that you don't want to create a fictional story in a real town because it may cause rumors and people to think that what happens in the story happens in the real town that it takes place in. Needless to say, it's way easier for an author to create a fictional town and it also gets our imaginations going on what the towns would look like and if they differ from ours.
The people we come to know in these fictional towns usually serve as our main characters or heroes. As readers, we are either introduced to a whole group of townspeople who make up the town or we get a main character or hero whose duty is to protect the town or represent it. Obviously, since fictional characters need a place to stay and reside they reside in fictional towns. This is not always the case but in most cases it is. It's not done not out of the fact that it has to be this way but it's easier this way and really makes you wonder not only about the people but about the town and the details the author goes through to tell you about it.
Some fictional towns have elaborately detailed backstories such as Castle Rock, which Stephen King has been writing about and adding to for years. Other cities are merely mentioned in books or shows and only serve as vessels to contain the story and characters. I like to think that the fictional towns with detailed backstories are the type of towns that create great stories and tales. To bring up King again, he actually uses the same towns for several of his stories which are not only creative but a real fun idea and good way to get people interested in your works. Many fictional towns while the imagination of the author can also have real-life attributes from real cities and towns that the author themselves either live in or have been to at one time. Adding a bit of realism into a fictional town is a good way to give it substance and make a reader relate the next time they adventure into a creepy small town or even a happy place like Mayberry.
Stephen King places his fictional towns in Maine and even gives them actual spots on a map if you were ever so deeply inclined to check them out. Some authors actually describe the county or place a fictional town on a map so you could almost see it if you were to look on one. Again this is a fun vivid effect(at least I think so) and one that connects a fictional town to the realism of a real town. Now if you read science fiction then chances are not only is the town fictional but so is the planet and galaxy which is going way beyond and creating a whole world. Settings for fictional towns can also be created if the town is based on two real-life cities(example: my fictional town of Toomswood in A Bloody Bloody Mess in the Wild Wild West is based on Toomsuba, Mississippi and Riverwood, Alabama).
If fictional towns teach us anything it's that they can be as real as any town we ourselves live in just like the people who live in them. Some go into details, some don't. Some are created because it's only natural and some because it's better to leave eerie and creepiness out of a real town and scare the people who live there. I wanted to take a deep look into fictional towns because it always made me curious as to why they were created and because of my own creative fictional town of Craven Hollow, New York which is the setting for The Wax Factory series. Fictional towns can be big or small, have a lot said about them or nothing said about them at all.
"You've seen them. Little towns, tucked away far from the main roads. You've seen them, but have you thought about them? Have you wondered what the people do in such places, why they stay?"