Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Must Everything Be Real?

Okay, so here's a question for you:  if you base your novel in a real city, must you stay true to everything?

I believe I know the answer is no as long as it's believable.  To me that's using creative licence, but I'd like to hear from you.  For example, if you had a murder at a Holiday Inn, I don't think you'd want to be saying it was the one in Toronto, on such and such a road.  Or if a murder happened in a house, you wouldn't want to give the number of an existing address.

But when it comes to locations such as restaurants and hotels, is it okay to stretch reality as long as it's feasible?

Currently, I'm editing my novel ELEVEN, and it's set in real locations with Salt Lick, Kentucky being one of them.  While there are two hotels there (most are cabin rentals), the one I was considering having my FBI team stay at doesn't have a restaurant.  I had wanted a restaurant in the hotel, but I also pictured more of a motel - single story with the parking lot in the middle.  I believe it's the type you can picture in a small rural town like that, and if so is that invention alright to use?  But if I go with the lodge that's there, I'd have to pick a restaurant.  And then, the question comes up, do I really what to "advertise" all these businesses?

What about you?  How would you handle it?  I want to stay as true as possible to the location, but is it alright to compromise, as in my case have a hotel like the one that's there (no on-site restaurant), but assign it a different name, for example?  Would something like this be better than inventing a complete new motel with an on-site restaurant?

What are your thoughts?  If you pick a real location, must everything be real, or just believable?