Small-town Girl, Livin’ in a Lonely World

First, go ahead and get the song good and stuck in your head. You know you want to.

Now that that’s taken care of, keep clickin’ and read this great list of the appeal of small towns as settings for a story. Basically, in summary, small towns:

  • Harbor undercurrents of deep emotion
  • Have lots of secrets (because anything that’s not a secret is common knowledge)
  • Are really interconnected
  • Are friendly but also distant toward new folks
  • Are an easy snapshot every reader has built-in
  • Have a limited number of suspects but lots of motives*

*I suspect the last part is why “Murder, She Wrote” worked so well!

I think this is a great post, but these things extend not just to a small town, but to any small community. I grew up in a big suburb, but it might as well have been a town of 200 because everyone at my church knew everything that was going on (or that they assumed was going on), and you couldn’t get away with anything. High school is often the same way; you’ve got a small population that is heavily involved in itself. (I’m finally watching “Buffy the Vampire Slayer,” and you can always tell when someone is going to die because they’re a new person to the cast for that episode.)

I did live in a small town, or two, and I think this list did leave a few things out. Small towns often:

  • Aren’t up-to-date on current trends (in other words, are “a little bubble of the past”)
  • Don’t have as many resources
  • Are small for a reason
  • The pace is slower, but the emotional stakes are higher

My observations have a lot less to do with people than Elizabeth’s, but can really inform the world and the options available. Unless it’s a really big crisis, the CIA aren’t likely to come to a small town in Wisconsin; the people there are just gonna have to handle their problems themselves, and they probably like it that way.

What is unique about your setting? What made you choose that place for your story?

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