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Shady Lane
05-15-2007, 01:54 AM
A lot of my WIP is taking place on a college campus.

Is it okay to invent a college, so that I can personalize the geography/history how I want and not have to bother with researching a preexisting school? Or is this amateurish and something that would immediately turn you (or an editor/agent/publisher) off?

Meshanks.

davids
05-15-2007, 01:56 AM
First answer-yes

second answer-no-if it does then probably the book is junk and it does not matter if it is a real college or not. Not saying it is-junk I mean-just that that is my experience-oh and write well-the rest'll just take care of itself-you'd be surprised what a bit of good writing'll do for ya and how many doors it really can open!!!!

scarletpeaches
05-15-2007, 01:57 AM
Amalgamate a collection of colleges and turn them into your one fictional school.

newmod
05-15-2007, 01:58 AM
Is it okay to invent a college, so that I can personalize the geography/history how I want and not have to bother with researching a preexisting school?

Absolutely. Why ever not? If you wanted to you could use elements from real universities and combine them.

I instantly thought of Tom Sharpe´s Porterhouse Blue when I read your post.

Well, that´s my take on it anyway,
newmod

davids
05-15-2007, 01:59 AM
Amalgamate a collection of colleges and turn them into your one fictional school.

Really-not a bad suggestion! In fact quite good-answer is still YES!

Mr. E
05-15-2007, 01:59 AM
A lot of my WIP is taking place on a college campus.

Is it okay to invent a college, so that I can personalize the geography/history how I want and not have to bother with researching a preexisting school? Or is this amateurish and something that would immediately turn you (or an editor/agent/publisher) off?

Meshanks.

I personally think that Lovecraft's "Miskatonic University" is one of the coolest places that never existed.

On a larger scale, didn't Scott Turow create an entire anonymous CITY for Presumed Innocent, et al?

So there's a precedent, for sure. I would just make sure there's a level of detail that makes it SEEM a real place.

Cheerio!

ClaudiaGray
05-15-2007, 02:03 AM
Jane Smiley did just fine with Moo -- I tend to think invention allows for a lot more freedom. Unless there's something specific you want to get at with a real school's unique culture/setting/etc., I don't think you have to lose anything by creating a sufficiently detailed, three-dimensional school of your own.

Shady Lane
05-15-2007, 02:06 AM
Excellent. University created. If only it was this easy in real life, and I could skip the whole application process.

Thanks, guys!

JamieFord
05-15-2007, 02:06 AM
Don't shy away from research. Do it well, and your setting can almost become another character. I'd use a real university. I prefer having a map based in reality and actual lore to add color. But hey, that's me.

Sassenach
05-15-2007, 02:08 AM
=

Shady Lane
05-15-2007, 02:09 AM
I know, I know! But my boys are in college. Inquiring minds need to know.

NowCutThatOut!
05-15-2007, 02:23 AM
My WIP is set in a fictional high-school (in a fictional town) as well, since it's a pretty unusual story as it is. If I were going for pure realism I'd probably just use a pre-existing one.

Even with a totally made up place, you can still do a lot of research - I looked at some similar schools' websites from the same state to get some ideas.

Kristin Landon
05-15-2007, 02:49 AM
I'd invent a school. I like the freedom of being able to make up details as needed. No one can ever, ever tell you you got something wrong. And there are no legal ramifications. ("In 1942, an alcoholic chancellor renamed the field house for his mistress. . . .")

Thomas White
05-15-2007, 02:53 AM
You're worried about inventing a fictional college? Mate, I don't think Hogwarts exists, and Harry Potter managed to shift a few copies. That about sums up my opinion.

freshpencils
05-15-2007, 02:58 AM
Never mind - everyone else's posts pretty much covered what I had to say!

newmod
05-15-2007, 02:59 AM
You're worried about inventing a fictional college? Mate, I don't think Hogwarts exists, and Harry Potter managed to shift a few copies. That about sums up my opinion.

O ye of little faith. Course it exists, next time your down Kings Cross give the wall a go. Make sure you got your letter though, they do horrible things to fare dodgers.

Will Lavender
05-15-2007, 02:59 AM
A lot of my WIP is taking place on a college campus.

Is it okay to invent a college, so that I can personalize the geography/history how I want and not have to bother with researching a preexisting school? Or is this amateurish and something that would immediately turn you (or an editor/agent/publisher) off?

Meshanks.

Of course.

My novel takes place on a fictional campus. It is, as scarletpeaches said above, a sort of collection of a bunch of different colleges I've been to/taught at/attended.

And I like JamieFord's response: do your research. One of the things I was told by editors as the book was on submission was that the campus I had created was realistic and that the experience felt real.

It has to feel, I think, like a true experience even though the geography is made up.

newmod
05-15-2007, 03:09 AM
Here are some examples of fictional unis/colleges from Wiki FYI.

Jordan College is a fictional college (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fictional_seats_of_learning) of the University of Oxford (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/University_of_Oxford) which appears in the His Dark Materials (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/His_Dark_Materials) trilogy by Philip Pullman (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Philip_Pullman)

Empire State University (ESU) is a fictional (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fictional) university in the Marvel Comics Universe (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Marvel_Comics_Universe)

The University of Edgestow is a fictional university which appears in the novel That Hideous Strength (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/That_Hideous_Strength) by C.S. Lewis (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/C.S._Lewis)

Streeling University, in The Foundation Series (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Foundation_Series) of science fiction (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Science_fiction) novels by Isaac Asimov (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Isaac_Asimov)

Worthington University is a fictional university (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/University) from the television (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Television) series (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Television_series) Dawson's Creek (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dawson%27s_Creek)

Hudson University is a fictional (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fiction) university (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/University) in New York City (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/New_York_City) from the television series Law & Order (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Law_%26_Order) and its spinoffs (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Spinoff)

Will Lavender
05-15-2007, 03:13 AM
Donna Tartt's The Secret History is set on the (I believe) fictional campus of Hampden University in Vermont.

James D. Macdonald
05-15-2007, 03:19 AM
If it's stupid and it works, it isn't stupid.

Shady Lane
05-15-2007, 03:19 AM
(http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Isaac_Asimov)

Worthington University is a fictional university (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/University) from the television (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Television)series (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Television_series) Dawson's Creek (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dawson%27s_Creek)

Hudson University is a fictional (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fiction)university (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/University) in New York City (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/New_York_City) from the television series Law & Order (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Law_%26_Order) and its spinoffs (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Spinoff)

Yeah, I knew TV shows do it all the time. Any good kid raised in the 90's went through a period of shock upon realizing there wasn't really a Penbrook University (Boy Meets World).

Thanks for the research! I'm feeling much less hack-y about this now.

JoNightshade
05-15-2007, 03:24 AM
I would say that it depends on your genre. If you're writing about anything that is supernatural, magical, fantastic, or out of the ordinary in any way, go for it. If, on the other hand, you are writing a contemporary/mainstream novel about characters who are supposed to be gritty and realistic, I'd use a real location. It will heighten the realism and believability.

Either way, I'd recommend taking a trip to a college campus and just walking around for a while. Pick up a campus map. Etc. A junior college will also do. There's bound to be one nearby wherever you are, right?

Shady Lane
05-15-2007, 03:26 AM
I would say that it depends on your genre. If you're writing about anything that is supernatural, magical, fantastic, or out of the ordinary in any way, go for it. If, on the other hand, you are writing a contemporary/mainstream novel about characters who are supposed to be gritty and realistic, I'd use a real location. It will heighten the realism and believability.

Either way, I'd recommend taking a trip to a college campus and just walking around for a while. Pick up a campus map. Etc. A junior college will also do. There's bound to be one nearby wherever you are, right?

My sister's a senior in high school this year, so I've been on lots of college visits. And my own are coming up, too, to refresh my memory. ;) Thanks for the tip!

Penguin Queen
05-15-2007, 03:34 AM
If it's stupid and it works, it isn't stupid.

I want that on a T shirt :D

kristie911
05-15-2007, 05:06 AM
Amalgamate a collection of colleges and turn them into your one fictional school.

I just love the word amalgamate. And there are so few chances to use it.

James D. Macdonald
05-15-2007, 07:25 AM
Anyone remember The Harrad Experiment?

Fictional school, no problem.

RLB
05-15-2007, 08:09 AM
Also, I am Charlotte Simmons by Tom Wolfe took place on the campus of a fictional Ivy League-ish school. I remember putting that book down and being amazed that an 80+ year old man was able to write so convincingly about college kids. It's a good read if you're researching fictional portrayals of modern college culture.

mdin
05-15-2007, 08:46 AM
And let's not forget Adam's College (filmed on the University of Arizona campus) for one of the greatest college films of all time, Revenge of the Nerds.

Chris Grey
05-15-2007, 09:02 AM
99% of your readers won't be able to tell a real college from a made-up one.
100% of your readers will be able to tell if your made-up college doesn't feel like a real one.

CoriSCapnSkip
05-15-2007, 12:50 PM
Faulkner invented a whole county and you're better than him. So go for it.

Philip64
05-15-2007, 10:28 PM
In my opinion you should not to set your book at a real and existing university unless you want to say something fairly specific about that university. You will simply be tying yourself down, to no advantage. And if you get anything wrong - courses, geography, customs, idiom, nomenclature - your book will be open to the charge of lacking authenticity (and yourself of ignorance). By all means do the research, but change the name.

CP Snow, a fellow at Cambridge, once wrote a successful novel called 'The Masters' all about a bunch of fellows at Cambridge. But even he decided to 'invent' a fictional college there, rather than name a real one. He wasn't worried about libel, or outraging his fellow fellows. He just wanted a little more creative freedom.

(In my experience when people set a novel at a particular named university - especially a very prestigious one - it's often because they want some of that prestige to rub off on them. I suspect that more bad novels have been set at Oxford than almost any other location.)

Finally, imagine what would happen if you had just published a light-hearted romantic comedy set on the real-life campus of .... Virginia Tech?

allenparker
05-15-2007, 11:54 PM
Hogwarts isn't real? Now what am I going to spend this tuition on? Someone better come over here and drink some of this drunk potion with me.


awp

Elektra
05-16-2007, 05:59 AM
In THE RULE OF FOUR they used Harvard (pretty sure it was Harvard, anyway) and just moved stuff around to suit their needs.