|My home town! Courtesy of Wikipedia|
Setting a small town is just as much characters as it is landscape. Sometimes it's just describing the people walking down the street that make the scene come to life. We don't have to know them, we don't have to know their names. But maybe your main character does and that sets the stage for what and how she feels about her hometown.
QUIRKS. It's in the landscape. It's in the hearts of the people. It's in the size of the town. Not all small towns are created equal. Everyone thinks of small towns in different ways. Where I live (in a county larger than 7 states) we have fewer than 7,000 people. That's a big difference of the small town of 12,000 or a even a tourist town of 5,000. Each has a different landscape. A difference in knowing the person who walks down the opposite street and not.
Pick your small town character carefully. And pick your small town with the greatest of care. If you create one, but don't live in one, visit small towns. Talk to those who come from small towns, not just what you think a small town should or shouldn't have. Everyone will have a different opinion, but garner the best advice and create your perfect setting.
LOCATION. Will you set it in the country or the city? You can have a small town or a small community in the city, but location is huge right now in branding the place where your character lives. Some of us as writers, don't like to pick one particular real place. (say the place you live, unless it's a larger city). So for me, I channeled my home town, the feel of the town, the layout, but gave it a different name and a slightly different location. But I kept all proximity to larger cities to ground it.
PEOPLE. I've already mentioned this, but it can't be said enough: Make your setting, the people of your setting a third character. Give them a voice on the page. It doesn't have to be loud. It doesn't have to always apparent, but let it seep into the story like soft layer. You're story will be richer for it.
PICTURES. Troll the internet. Google small towns under the images option and see what you come up with. Collect some pictures and make an album or a story board on pinterest. It's bound to become a new obsession for you! Make your town come to life. It will be full and powerful, take the richness and depth to a whole new level.
So you've got the small town. You've got the picture. You've got the people. Now you just to write the story! Are you a small town story crafter or do you prefer the big city?
Casey Herringshaw is a homeschool graduate and has been writing since high school. She lives in rural Eastern Oregon in a town more densely populated with cows than people.