Reality Used to Be a Friend of Mine
Since I previously wrote about why I like to set my work in slightly fictionalized locales, I'd like to take on the problem with using exclusively using real places and products in my writing.
Sure my characters love all things Apple (I am writing this post on a MacBook Air with my iPhone within reach, so they come by it naturally), and they drive real cars (whether your character drives a new BMW sports coupe or a 10-year-old Honda Accord tells you something about him or her), but I tend to avoid real places and things when I can for three reasons.
First, I think using real places tends to make me lazy. I can describe the iconic red-and-white interior of In-N-Out and detail their precision-crafted menu, but I'd rather introduce you to Glenn's Burgers, with an owner might be modeled after a friend of mine and whose menu is from another place I used to love when I didn't care as much about calories or carbs as I do now.
Second, if I feature real places too much it feels likes I am doing an advertisement for them. In my most recent novel, Disneyland was part of the storyline, but I found myself trimming down much of the section that described which rides people rode and in what order. I'm a novelist, not a tour guide.
Third, bad stuff tends to happen in my books and I'd rather not make our local landmark doughnut shop, for example, the scene of a grisly triple homicide. They've got these amazing strawberry doughnuts and there's no way I'm giving up my access to those on the rare occasions I frequent the old haunt .
It's just not worth the risk.
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I've been writing stories and taking photos since I was old enough to hold a pencil and stand behind a tripod.