Scoping out locations for your novel #3: Road Trip! (Contes Farm)

In scoping out locations in South Jersey for my new Novel, I needed a farm that was between point A and an airport.  Last week, we visited the airport, and it was perfect.  Would the farm be that good?

I clicked on the GPS and started driving.  First problem:  It’s too far away.  I need it far away, but not this far.  There is another farm option, but that one is actually too close to its local airport.

Erghhh!  The woes of real-life locations.

As I’m driving though, I figure out a way to make it work.  I just need to tweak something just a little bit.  Yeah, I decided, it will work, and it will be much easier than trying to make the one that’s too close to the airport “fit” into the story.

We headed out into farm country, and I kept repeating:  “Please be surrounded by woods… please be surrounded by woods.”

We turned onto a road, and pulled up to the small farm-stand building. Conte’s Farm.  Hmmm… not as grand as I had expected, but the building is not important.  I dragged all the kids out of the car, and announced we were going out into the fields to pick our own fruit.  Boy, did their faces light up!

It’s funny, with all the things they were guessing as we were driving, I was afraid they would be disappointed.  Wow, were they excited.

We went to the back and got our baskets.  “So, how does this work?” I asked.

“He’ll be there in a minute to bring you out,” she said.

Much to my joy, and my kid’s excitement, a tractor pulled up with a big trailer attached with seats on it.

Perfect, since I’d already written this scene, and there was a tractor in it.  We loaded up and he pulled us out into the fields which were HUGE.  Much bigger than I had written, but that’s fine.  An easy fix.

I shielded my eyes, and scanned the far reaches of the fields.  They were surrounded on three sides with a very thick forest.  Wahooo!  And the woods were even on the correct side, heading toward the airport.

Happiness abounding, we set out to pick our strawberries and had a blast.  “Nice tractor guy” picked us up a while later and dropped us off at the blueberry fields.  The weather was perfect, and we had tons of fun picking fruit.

Note of caution-if everyone in your group has their own buckets, you may be coming home with five pounds of blueberries… Just say’n.

Anyway… next hurdle…

As we checked out, I asked if they have anything fruiting in August (That’s when my novel takes place, and I really didn’t want to change that.)

“Yes, that’s peach season.”

YES!  I’d already written about peaches… and I was worried, because they didn’t mention peaches on their web-site.

Two locations down… the farm and the airport.

Point A would be a little more of a trip… for another day.

My next challenge is to find a hotel within a reasonable distance to this farm.

That, unfortunately, may be the hardest part of all of this.  I might have to make one up.

What do you think of “making up” a location, where all other locations are “real”?  I may be able to fudge it, by being hazy on the address of the hotel.  Whaddya think?


23 responses to “Scoping out locations for your novel #3: Road Trip! (Contes Farm)

  1. It sounds like things are starting to come together. Who knows? In a year or two from now, maybe there will be a hotel where you wrote it would be – with a balcony! 🙂

  2. Looks like you’re cooking now. 🙂

  3. Robert Perry

    Just be careful you don’t get into any legal issues for name/location usages. Other than that, I think you have creative liberty to create places, if you want.

    • Yes. The ones I will use I will get written permission from. The only one who might object is the airport. 🙂 I don’t name it, but I give the longitude and lattitude.

  4. It is fiction… I mean, if sports cars can morph into fighting robots, then La Quinta can appear as a mirage in the distance too.

  5. I am all for making it up. My location was real but I made up various elements that weren’t there such as stores and hotels and it made the environment what I need it to be.

  6. Okay, another vote for make it up when you need to. 🙂 Lots of authors do it! Real settings are nice as far as they go. But sometimes fudging makes all the difference to the story. I can’t remember which book it was, but years ago I read one where the author moved a chunk of New York City to fit the novel!

  7. I’m just going to reiterate what everyone else seemed to say, if you can’t find anything “for real” that matches what you’ve written, then why not make it up? Isn’t that the whole point of fiction to begin with?

  8. Carrie Rubin

    Go ahead and make things up. That’s the joy of fiction. Think of Stephen King and his fictional Derry, Maine.

  9. I think making up a location is fine. It’s fiction. Let your imagination run wild.

  10. I’m wrestling with this exact same question, but since my genre is historical fiction I can’t visit the place to verify what’s there and what isn’t. I’m entirely dependent upon historical records and the more comprehensive my research, the more accurate my setting will be. Some things I will be forced to conjure from thin air, but given all the research I’m doing, if someone can actually critique my setting and say “there was no stand of trees by that Hungarian roadway back in 1450 A.D.”, well, good for them. (And I might be smart to offer them a job as my personal researcher. *LOL!*)

    • With something like that, the chances of someone actually knowing something like that and reading your book are pretty slim. And if they do, like you said, giggle it off and offer them a job.

  11. I think making up stuff is perfectly fine. Harry Potter uses lots of actual places but Little Whinging is completely fictional.

    Not that I’m any J.K. Rowling, but in my novel, David is from Havendale which is located a stones throw away from Bristol and Kingsport, TN, both of which are very real places. There’s also a fictional air base in the Appalachian Mountains, buried in the depths of the Cherokee National Forest, (so comes into play in the 3rd book). I think it’s cool that some of your places are lining up like you wrote them, but they don’t have to be exact. Just knowing they exist in a similar manner I think is sufficient for a well-grounded backdrop. It sounds like it would be real easy to throw in a Motel 8 or something like that in your story and not lose the authenticity. Remember, it’s fiction. Any similarities to actual persons or places are completely coincidental. 🙂

    • Yeah. I did find a hotel, but it needs a balcony and it was only one floor. I guess I shouldn’t be so rigid. It’s fun to try to make it realt, though, since I’ve never done anything like this before.