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Writing Romance > Small Town vs. Big City

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message 1: by Chessela (new)

Chessela Helm | 8 comments After reading the Invertary, Sapphire Falls, and Hope falls books, I'm on a small town romance kick. I like that there are characters of all ages, and I like that everyone is really quirky. On the opposite side of things, I read and enjoy a lot of books set in New York City. I've lived in big cities most of my life, and I enjoy the familiarity and the wide variety of places the characters can go.

My question is, what do you like about each setting, and which do you prefer?

I'm going to start writing a contemporary in the next month or two, and I can't decide whether it will be set in a small town in NW Michigan or in New York City. I want to write both of these books eventually, just not sure which one to start with. Thought I would get other writers' perspectives on what they enjoy about each setting.

message 2: by Erin (new)

Erin Daniels | 120 comments It depends on my mood.When I'm busy or stressed out I love a hometown romance with cozy characters and a familiar setting. When I'm feeling bored wih my real-life I love an adventurous big city romance to get swept away with. I live in NYC so lately western romances have been on my radar lol. Not much of an answer I guess but there it is lol.

message 3: by Chessela (new)

Chessela Helm | 8 comments That makes sense. When reading it does depend on my mood, too. I think you're right about small town romances feeling cozy.

message 4: by Bree (new)

Bree Verity (breeverity) I love me a good small town romance. My favs seem to be the ones set in cold places (think Gilmore Girls), but here in Australia, it's rural romance that happens in the small towns that spring up around dairy, cattle and crop farming.
There is a sense of camaraderie in those communities that is difficult to find in the cities. And it's that you have to capture when you write one, without overdoing it.
I think writing a city-based contemporary romance is easier :-) But a small-town one might be more rewarding...
So helpful, I know :-)

message 5: by Chessela (new)

Chessela Helm | 8 comments Yes! Camaraderie is exactly what I like about the small town romances. I imagine it will be rather hard to get it right. Maybe I should start with the big city and let the small town continue to marinate...

message 6: by Erin (new)

Erin Daniels | 120 comments Bree wrote: "I love me a good small town romance. My favs seem to be the ones set in cold places (think Gilmore Girls), but here in Australia, it's rural romance that happens in the small towns that spring up a..."

I so agree! This aspect made writing my last novella so rewarding for me. The male lead is a rancher with about 100 cousins and best friends, all of whom are interested in his love life lol. It can be charming and heartwarming if done correctly *knocks on wood* ha ha.

message 7: by Amanda (new)

Amanda Siegrist (amandasiegrist) I like reading both. It really all depends on my mood. Small town romances give me more of a "ah, that's so adorable" feel, if that makes sense. lol. I feel like they are more sweet and comfortable, even crazy at times, with nosy people getting in everyone's business, which can be semi annoying at times. Big city romances give me more of a glamour feel, more sophistication. (Not that those small town books can't as well lol)

I love reading about places I've never been so it'd be cool to read a book based in Michigan. Plus, not sure Michigan gets much love in book settings, at least in the books I've read. lol I've been to New York and love it to death, always wanted to live there. Can't go wrong in my eyes. lol I'd read both:)

message 8: by Chessela (new)

Chessela Helm | 8 comments Erin - yes, the heartwarming vibe is what I want to explore. I suppose I could write about that in the big city, but somehow it seems to work better in a rural setting!

Amanda - Adorable is another good description. I think the nosiness is an essential part of the small town romance, too. I want to do Michigan because I lived in Detroit for 8 years, and we visited the northwestern part of the state frequently. I started reading a Melanie Harlow novel set in Northern Michigan, but the lead character was so unlikable I couldn't get past the first few chapters. I loved her book Man Candy, which is set in Detroit, but this book was about a character who'd been on a reality show and was a brat. Too bad, because the setting had potential.

message 9: by Abigail (new)

Abigail Sharpe (abigailsharpe) | 118 comments You can always do a city mouse/country mouse thing if you can't decide.

message 10: by Jane (new)

Jane Blythe Okay, I'm strange, but I prefer books that are set nowhere in particular! However I would totally read either small town or big city if the characters are engaging and interesting, and the plot is strong and well written, for me setting isn't a big deal, its characters and plot that are the big ones for me

message 11: by J. (new)

J. Saman | 320 comments I think for me, it depends on the characters that go into the story. I like both big city and small towns, though now that I think on it, I seem to write big city.
Small town can give you that cozy, intimate feeling. I've read books with both and I've loved both. But honestly, I think it all falls back onto the story and characters. If either is lacking then it doesn't matter where it's set.

message 12: by Annie, The Mistress (new)

Annie Arcane (anniearcane) | 2365 comments Mod
First things first, helloooo and welcome, Miss Chessela!

*waves happily*

And to actually stay on topic, I tend to write settings I know well (typically places I know reeeally well, in fact) so I usually lean toward big cities. Even if I don't describe anything in detail, I think I dig seeing/feeling/? it in my head. Maybe. Yeah, I'm not sure why haha!

When it comes to reading, though, the setting isn't a big deal to me. I don't even need a specific one nailed down. I'm all about the feels, so if the characters can hold their own (great dialogue, sizzling chemistry, etc.), they could be locked in a house set in the middle of nowhere for all I care. And, actually, I've read some pretty twisted dark romance where the h is abducted and spends the entire time held hostage. Ain't no problem LOL

That said, I do have a thing for accuracy. So if a book is set somewhere I've been and details are off? I'd probably have preferred a non-setting in that case. Anyhoo, great discussion! ^_~


message 13: by Chessela (new)

Chessela Helm | 8 comments Abigail - put a city girl into the country, or a country girl into the city? True!

Jane - I don't think that is strange at all. For a lot of books, the setting doesn't really matter. But in some books it does add a lot of character to the story, and I enjoy those books a lot.

J - that is also very true, that the location can't make up for poor storytelling. I think if the story is already strong, though, telling it with a vivid location can make it even stronger.

message 14: by Chessela (new)

Chessela Helm | 8 comments Ann - thanks for the welcome. I also write places I've been to. I don't think I've tried to write about a city I haven't. The nice thing about small towns is they can be fictional, which is what mine will be. I know what you mean about seeing it in your head. It has to be something I feel comfortable talking about, so I can authentically describe it (and so I don't set off any accuracy bells in readers' heads!).

message 15: by Alyne (new)

Alyne Hart | 109 comments Gosh, I love a good small town romance! I do find big cities exciting and intriguing - but like Ann above me, I don't want to try and describe anything, or any places and get called out for my mistakes!

message 16: by Amber (new)

Amber Laura | 24 comments Good question…but I guess I’d have to say I’m more small-town romance (but never say never and never say always). Especially for work that I write. For me, and as others have already mentioned in this post, a small town seems to more frequently take on its very own character-like qualities, which adds another dimension to the story, another level of believability and world-building. Maybe that’s because the characters usually share a more intimate relationship with one another, or because a small town offers more opportunities for those uniquely distinct details that truly set a place apart, maybe it’s because, I don’t know, because small towns are sometimes represented as a sort of dying art and there’s a sense of mysteriousness that surrounds the people that hang on…

That said, I don’t think there is anything stopping a big city romance from owning these same eccentricities and unique/quirky characteristics.

In fact, challenge accepted. :)

message 17: by Kristina (new)

Kristina (kristinaadams) | 46 comments I don't really have a preference. I mostly just write about characters running away from their problems, so as long as it fits into that box it's fine XD

In my current series I have three characters from small towns (one of whom moved to the New York City) and the rest are from New York City. Their small-town background is part of what drives them/their story.

You get a nice sense of community from a small town, and the inability to keep secrets in a place like that (particularly if it's VERY small - think Gilmore Girls), can be interesting to play with. There's more opportunities for characters in bigger cities though, so it depends on what they want from life. (One of my characters is a stunt performer, and he wouldn't get nearly as many opportunities if he'd stayed in rural Texas, for example.)

message 18: by Nat (new)

Nat Kennedy | 25 comments I like how things are more intimate in a small town book. The people stand out more, while in a city, I find the 'city' stands out more as a character.

It is funny how each has a totally different feel.

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