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Torgo
07-16-2010, 07:36 PM
Hello - anyone here familiar with the Hamptons, NY?

I am currently storylining/editing a novel set in this area but without knowing much about its geography it's quite difficult to know what's plausible and what's not.

Very basic stuff: are there hills? Are there woods or forests? Is it very built-up, rural in places, or what?

Any and all help gratefully received.

OneWriter
07-16-2010, 07:49 PM
Well, I don't know anything about the Hamptons but I do have a tip: google earth.
You can zoom in, zoom out, get the satellite view to look at landscape, either urban or rural, and you can turn on the photo option and look at all the pictures people have taken in the area. It's pretty neat and I've benefited immensely from its use. Oh, and there's a street view too, so you can pretend you're driving around and stare at the views.

Torgo
07-16-2010, 08:28 PM
Thanks - I've been trying Google Maps on it but the satellite view isn't particularly handy for telling what's a golf course and what's a pine forest! It's a bit frustrating. And I can't get Street View to work at all for some reason, and IT won't let me install Google Earth...

I think I'll have a look when I get home.

PeterL
07-16-2010, 08:52 PM
I think that this may be an illustration of the phrase: "Write what you know." Isn't there a place that you know where you could set the thing?

sassandgroove
07-16-2010, 09:04 PM
I think that this may be an illustration of the phrase: "Write what you know." Isn't there a place that you know where you could set the thing?
That's what I was going to say. since you aren't familiar with the place, people who are will spot your inaccuracies and take you out of the story. Plus it is sort of cliche. Things in pop culture are set in NY and LA becuase that's where the producers and writers live. Set yours where you are familiar and you will have a stronger story, and some variety for us readers.

Kris
07-16-2010, 09:07 PM
Hello - anyone here familiar with the Hamptons, NY?

I am currently storylining/editing a novel set in this area but without knowing much about its geography it's quite difficult to know what's plausible and what's not.

Very basic stuff: are there hills? Are there woods or forests? Is it very built-up, rural in places, or what?

Any and all help gratefully received.

Northampton and Southampton, in terms of the towns themselves, are cute little beach towns gone mad. By that I mean that you'll see a lot of two-lane roads and one-story buildings -- but in the downtown, the shops are things like a Sotheby's realtor, a Citarella, and a Ralph Lauren store. Upscale stuff.

In that area in general, you'll see some classic square shingle buildings with white trim, and lovely graying unfinished-cedar shingles. You'll also see crazy huge mansions behind gates and hedges.

The beaches vary. There are private beaches and public beaches. There are some areas that would definitely qualify as undeveloped or very lightly developed-- or maybe 'preserved' would be a better term.

Dan's Papers could be a good resource for you. It's the local paper out there. Could give you a sense of local scandals, etc. (ETA: if you Google, there's an online edition)

Also, "DeKooning's Bicycle" is a book that talks a lot about the Hamptons when it was an artists' colony. Now of course it's nothing of the kind :D

ETA: There are definitely woods/ forests. There are areas that seem sort of rural, and a fair number of vineyards and farms as well. The dominant tone out there though is like, upscale beach community.

It's also one of those places where there are locals, summer people, and tourists, and that can make for some strange mixes of class/ financial level.

PeterL
07-16-2010, 09:19 PM
That's what I was going to say. since you aren't familiar with the place, people who are will spot your inaccuracies and take you out of the story. Plus it is sort of cliche. Things in pop culture are set in NY and LA becuase that's where the producers and writers live. Set yours where you are familiar and you will have a stronger story, and some variety for us readers.

If I were going to write about a place that I didn't know, I would do as Edgar Rice Burroughs did, lean back and imagine. I understand that Africans like his Africa better than where they live, and I suspect that the same is true of Barsoomians and Amtorians. Someone might dream up Hamptons that will make the Hamptonians want to move to.

Kris
07-16-2010, 09:21 PM
I think people can write well about places they've never been to. It takes research, but it's done all the time.

Lyra Jean
07-16-2010, 09:22 PM
Really rich people live there. There is an episode of Seinfield where George lies to his parents-in-law about having a house there. He bluffs and says that he will show them the house and they call his bluff.

sassandgroove
07-16-2010, 09:24 PM
What's the difference between a Long Island Ice Tea and a Hampton Ice Tea? they spit in it and charge twice as much.

Georgina
07-17-2010, 11:40 AM
Try putting the place name into Flickr (http://www.flickr.com) and see what comes back. I'm writing a story set in a fictitious town based roughly on a real town, and it's been very helpful to get a sense of what the houses look like there, the main street, the parks, etc.

Cheers.

Wayne K
07-17-2010, 11:51 AM
It's the same as any beach town with a lot of big houses. Woods? Nah, not in SouthHampton.

And there are rules, lots of them. They were going to give me a summons for eating a slice of pizza in public. No bikes, roller skates, dogs, nothing.

I couldn' get out of there fast enough

Bing Z
07-17-2010, 03:29 PM
I like Georgina's idea, and I'll add two resources:

a) Search real estates for sale there. Browse through the pictures and details to get a feel.
b) Search "Hamptons" or it's East, West, North, South siblings on the NY/Long Island sub-forum of city-data.ccom.

Kris
07-17-2010, 06:54 PM
Really rich people live there. There is an episode of Seinfield where George lies to his parents-in-law about having a house there. He bluffs and says that he will show them the house and they call his bluff.

The median household income is like $55K or $65K. It has the reputation of being this rich enclave, and it is, but there are also locals who work in local restaurants/ hotels, fish, farm, etc. The estate section has super-tony summer people, but there's an interesting tension between the rich folk and the regular folk out there, IMHO.

And there are wooded roads / undeveloped areas around Southampton. By that I mean it's not built-up and developed to the hilt like Miami Beach or something.

Torgo
07-19-2010, 01:14 PM
I think that this may be an illustration of the phrase: "Write what you know." Isn't there a place that you know where you could set the thing?

Kafka would disagree (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Amerika_%28novel%29)! Seriously though it's as simple as this: the client said "this needs to be set in the Hamptons." I could see if I could persuade them to relocate to the grimier parts of Camden Town but I'm not sure it's exactly the feel that they're after...

Torgo
07-19-2010, 01:15 PM
Really rich people live there. There is an episode of Seinfield where George lies to his parents-in-law about having a house there. He bluffs and says that he will show them the house and they call his bluff.

"Because we hate you, George." I love that one. An excuse to re-watch it!

Torgo
07-19-2010, 01:17 PM
It's the same as any beach town with a lot of big houses. Woods? Nah, not in SouthHampton.

God dammit.


And there are rules, lots of them. They were going to give me a summons for eating a slice of pizza in public. No bikes, roller skates, dogs, nothing.

I couldn' get out of there fast enough

Sounds unpleasant!

Torgo
07-19-2010, 01:19 PM
And there are wooded roads / undeveloped areas around Southampton. By that I mean it's not built-up and developed to the hilt like Miami Beach or something.

That's more promising... I think I need to go tell my boss that the best way to research this is a quick fact-finding trip.

Thanks for all the help, folks, much obliged.

mgoblue101415
07-19-2010, 09:52 PM
Google Earth, real estate listings, official gov or city sites that have a visitors guide or an events section, request area brochures... My stories take place in western Mass, an area I've never been to (although I did drive through on my way to Worchester a few years ago but didn't have time to stop and check it out). And as an added hurdle my stories take place there mostly from the 60's through the early 90's, so a lot of the current info doesn't help me sometimes. FB group pages for the cities in that area have been an awesome help. Discussions on what people did growing up, the cool hangouts, certain stores that are no longer there... I now know that area about as well as I know the town I grew up in.

PeterL
07-19-2010, 09:59 PM
Google Earth, real estate listings, official gov or city sites that have a visitors guide or an events section, request area brochures... My stories take place in western Mass, an area I've never been to (although I did drive through on my way to Worchester a few years ago but didn't have time to stop and check it out). And as an added hurdle my stories take place there mostly from the 60's through the early 90's, so a lot of the current info doesn't help me sometimes. FB group pages for the cities in that area have been an awesome help. Discussions on what people did growing up, the cool hangouts, certain stores that are no longer there... I now know that area about as well as I know the town I grew up in.

Where, or what is "Worchester"? I am sure that I have never read your stories, but anyone who would type "Worchester" must have made many more glaring errors.

mgoblue101415
07-19-2010, 10:10 PM
Where, or what is "Worchester"? I am sure that I have never read your stories, but anyone who would type "Worchester" must have made many more glaring errors.


Sorry, it's an inside joke that I call Worcester, Worchester. I've done it for so long that it always comes out that way, even when I don't intend for it to.

Linda Adams
07-20-2010, 05:27 AM
Some handy statistics: http://www.city-data.com/city/Hampton-New-York.html

hester
07-21-2010, 08:47 PM
Any town in particular? There are several (East Hampton, Southampton, Bridgehampton, Montauk) and each has its own distinctive flavor, types of stores, etc. Some are more rustic than others, some seem to cater to a wealthier crowd...

mtrenteseau
07-22-2010, 03:50 PM
And there are rules, lots of them. They were going to give me a summons for eating a slice of pizza in public. No bikes, roller skates, dogs, nothing.

I'm reminded of the line from "Grey Gardens":

"Honestly, they can get you in East Hampton for wearing red shoes on a Thursday ... They can get you for almost anything it's a mean, nasty, Republican town."