Hey everybody, Flobo here.
Technically as I write this, I am on vacation. Instead of being in my small soulless apartment in Los Angeles, I am typing this on my laptop while munching on free food due me visiting my parents in Brooklyn. For those of you that don’t know, I am a full-blooded Brooklynite, full stop. I carry this with a sense of pride, because my brethren are tough, hard working, punctual, and style conscious individuals that are unique when compared to any other town. Due to consolidation in the end of the 19th century, Brooklyn is technically a part of the City of New York . However we have a culture and an energy all of our own.
So when I travel and people ask me if I’m from New York, I would say: (Hint: It’s the title of this post)
I’m Not From New York, I’m From Brooklyn. There’s a Difference.
I grew up in Brooklyn. Went to school in Brooklyn. Got into my first fight and fell in love with my first crush in Brooklyn. I would venture to the other boroughs (which include Queens, Manhattan aka The City, The Bronx and Staten Island) but not if I didn’t have a particular reason. Simply put, my hometown shaped me to the person I am today.
This weekend I ran the NY10K in Prospect Park. The race was fun, and I got to run around pretending as if I was some star athlete who “returned to his hometown to win the big one”. Well, did I win? I came in 2700th place out of 4200 so I consider it a victory….. Yay!
Okay, so what does that have to do with your writing? Your characters are people, living breathing people with drives and desires. And sure, we as authors love to go into backstories in explaining a character’s fears or skeletons, but not much time is spent in making their hometown a “character” in the piece. I’ve read countless detective stories where the big city (usually New York or Los Angeles) is portrayed as a character; a living breathing entity for our hero to meander through, but when discussing the past of a character, his or her her hometown usually gets written off in a sentence or two. It is as almost the character was born in a void, usually indicative of the author’s imagination.
What I am saying is–especially in longer form works– is that you should spend sometime to develop the hometown of your characters. Let your readers “feel” the struggles of being born in Omaha, Nebraska.
Or the mean streets of Sheboygan…
Have your character have a certain pride where there are from. Like me this past weekend, it may factor in their motivations in your stories.