Location, Location, Location

Don’t worry, I’m not going to lecture on the fundamental principles of real estate investing. I’m going to talk about scene locations. Many readers ask me about the locations in Just by Chance and whether they’re real or fictional. My answer is “yes” and “no.” Let me explain.

Even though I write fiction, I’m a big believer in the authenticity of locations because I think it can enhance a story. And, for me, it often makes a story easier to write. Having said that, I think that names of places like restaurants, stores, and so forth are okay to fictionalize, and can also help a writer avoid unwanted legal ramifications.

When it comes to story locales in general, I have some pretty strong feelings. In my mind, it’s okay to fictionalize some aspects of locations, but I believe there should at least be a strong dose of what I like to call “geographical integrity.” Not all writers agree with me on this, and not all writers practice this, but I’m a stickler for geographical integrity. You may be wondering what I mean by geographical integrity, so let me explain. Let’s suppose that a scene takes place in New York’s Manhattan, the Big Apple, where streets run east and west, and avenues run north and south, forming a nice well-behaved grid. In such a setting, I think it is a huge faux pas for a writer to write something like, “He turned west onto Park Avenue,” as it violates the notion of geographical integrity. I also think geographical integrity adds a dash of authenticity to an otherwise fictional story, particularly for those readers who are familiar with a book’s locale. I wasn’t going to mention this, but I came across a sentence like this in a best-seller not too long ago.

So, to finally answer the question of whether my locations are real or fictional, the answer is that they are, for the most part, real. I have visited the majority of the locations that appear in my stories and they all have geographic integrity. I sometimes change the names of restaurants, hotels, and neighborhoods even though they are places I’ve actually been to. I will sometimes use an actual street, house, room, or building as the backdrop for a scene.

Some of the images that accompany this chapter were used to develop the vision for particular scenes in Just by Chance. The causeway photograph leads to a place in the Florida Keys where Kim and Nikki hide from the police and the mafia. The sunset photo was actually taken by me at a hotel in the Florida Keys. The hotel in Miami Beach is the setting for several important scenes in the book. And the Boca Raton home with a beautiful pool was used to model Kim’s home.

Next: A Bit Of The Bubbly

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