PaytonLeigh's picture
PaytonLeigh June 19, 2018 - 8:24pm

Hi there! 

I’ve been planning to write a book for the past three years now (ugh) and I’m just now getting to a place where I’m ready to begin. Only problem’s based in Las Vegas. I’ve never been to Vegas and I can’t go because I’m only sixteen and I don’t exactly have the money for it. I’ve seen every single episode of CSI which has given me ideas but I don’t know how to write a character who has grown up in Vegas. I want it to seem legit. I hate reading books that have inaccuracies that are so obvious and I don’t want to write like that. If anyone can give me some advice or if someone lives in Vegas and can explain how the people are and how life is there I’d appreciate it so much. 

Thank you. 

helpfulsnowman's picture
Community Manager
helpfulsnowman from Colorado is reading But What If We're Wrong? by Chuck Klosterman June 20, 2018 - 11:26am

The big key is finding the differences between what it's like to live in a place like Vegas versus vacationing there. Most guides to places, especially like Vegas, are all about the vacation life. 

I have two suggestions:

1. Check out resources like the Vegas locals subreddit ( and see if that gives you a feeling. Other options are things like Craigslist, Nextdoor, what have you. These might give you some idea how the place is for people who live there.

2. I might be inclined to write the thing, then go over it with someone from the area once you've got it outlined. Someone from the area will be able to immediately pick out what rings false. If your story hinges on some local details, then ignore this advice completely. 

Kedzie's picture
Kedzie from the SF Bay Area is reading The Things They Carried by Tim O'Brien June 20, 2018 - 1:21pm

Want a teenager’s perspective? This is pretty damn insightful.



OtterMan's picture
OtterMan from New Jersey, near Philadelphia USA is reading Ringworlds Children June 21, 2018 - 11:37am

Try checking out the local newspapers and TV stations to get a sense of what's happening now. Look for local interest stuff and check advertisements. Try picking a spot in town where someone might live, a development, apartment, or a trailer park. Use google maps to find stuff in the neighborhood, parks, stores, schools where your story or character would work, shop, hang out. 

Thuggish's picture
Thuggish from Vegas is reading Day of the Jackal June 21, 2018 - 5:37pm

PM me, I actually grew up in Vegas

Also, that video was stupid, sounded like it was coached by your local sociology professor. Here's a littany of all the social problems caused by this town, waah... Seriously, does that girl think Vegas is the only place these problems occur? And am I to believe a teenager pulled that list together that way? Coooooached!

(That said, I don't care for the place, so don't think I'm defending it.)

Spoiler alert: most of what people associate with "Vegas, baby" doesn't touch most people who live there all that much.

But really, PM me, I'm happy to help.

Kedzie's picture
Kedzie from the SF Bay Area is reading The Things They Carried by Tim O'Brien June 24, 2018 - 10:34am

Ya know, I think you’re right. I watched their other videos and yeah, definitely coached. They’re probably child-actors like the Parkland kids, or those ones on the border that Ann Coulter exposed just the other day. Obviously there’s big money in giving your opinion of what it’s like to grow up somewhere, and that’s how these kids get manipulated by those with agendas. Thanks, man. Phew! Can’t believe I was so naive.

PaytonLeigh's picture
PaytonLeigh June 27, 2018 - 8:24pm

Thank you all so much!! 

Thuggish's picture
Thuggish from Vegas is reading Day of the Jackal July 6, 2018 - 7:39pm

Hahahahahahahaha, leave it to Kedzie to bring Ann Coulter into this... Oh man... Oh and Parkland too, because why not.

Do you really think everything is only about money? I mean, a lot is, but, seriously, come on. You think that video was independent thought from those two and nothing else? You think those two had those ideas, rather than those ideas having those two kids?

For fuck's sake...

Thuggish's picture
Thuggish from Vegas is reading Day of the Jackal July 6, 2018 - 7:42pm

Okay, let me clarify, maybe you're just taking this in the totally wrong direction.

I'm not saying this was a propoganda piece that some nefarious whoever devised to create. What I am saying is that those two were nothing more than parrots of other people, without an original thought expressed, in my estimation (granted it was so boring I kind of checked in and out). 

Because, like, um yeah... I was totally, you know, shocked... to find out that like, my, educationnnnn, was not good 'n stuff...


Kedzie's picture
Kedzie from the SF Bay Area is reading The Things They Carried by Tim O'Brien July 8, 2018 - 1:30am

Not sure what "leave it to Kedzie" even means, since you and I have never communicated.

Re: Ann Coulter and Parkland: Sorry, but your post had a conspiracy theory bordering on deep state sorta vibe to it, ya know? I mean hell, ya had yer child actors being coached by yer sociology professors with agendas. All that was missing were words like libtard and snowflake. 

As for the girls, they ain't kids being coached, they're 28 years old. The one on the right was simply offering her perspective on what it was like to be a teenage girl growing up in Vegas. Unless I'm mistaken, you are not now, nor have you ever been, a teenage girl. So her truth is not your truth and alladat.

As for public schools, Cali is ranked 35th in the nation and Nevada is dead last at #50. So she prolly has a point there, too. 

Bottom Line: I'm inclined to take her truth at face value, believing that it has merit.

bethwenn's picture
bethwenn from Milwaukee is reading The Tin Drum by Günter Grass July 8, 2018 - 5:35pm

I have some advice that may seem contradictory at first.

1) Write whatever your inspiration is. As long as the juices are flowing, just keep typing. Don’t worry about being accurate.

2) Research. Read up on the city. Memoirs are probably your best resource. If you really care about this story, you'll need to put the work in. Watch some documentaries, movies, stand up comedy, anything. YouTube is a great resource. Learn as much as you can about the city. Study. Find some people from there and talk to them.

If you spend all your time worrying about getting it right, you’ll never start, and so you’ll never have anything that’s accurate or inaccurate. You can fix inaccuracies when you’re in the revising stage. It’s easy to go back and insert true to life details and fix things that don’t add up. It’s not easy to force yourself into a creative moment where the words all come pouring out. If you feel it, just go with it. Let yourself get the building blocks down. You can fix it and build it up and polish it later.

Thuggish is a great resource and very kind for volunteering so definitely take him up on messaging him. The video Kedzie posted is also a great resource and you should look for more things like that. It's not "cooooached"; it's a vlog. Yes, this is really how teenagers talk now in the information age. The kids call it being woke. Know Tumblr much? You sound old. :p

Getting back to the OP: It's important to hear a multiplicty of voices, so I would be very excited if I were you that you have dissenting voices to learn from manifesting already, and a clear generational divide. That's how you get to understand a place even better. No population is a monolith. Every neighborhood has people who disagree, and the peculiarity, the specificity of those disagreements is all a defining part of that place.

Thuggish's picture
Thuggish from Vegas is reading Day of the Jackal July 11, 2018 - 8:24am


So let's just say "coached" is the wrong word. It probably is. It still has the "ring" of being coached (and not even that well). Which in the end is roughly the same thing- people who don't really know what they're talking about, reducing themselves to parrots, repeating other people's ideas. 

And again, I don't necessarily disagree with all what those girls said. They talk about, for instance, the lacking education quality in NV, especially Vegas. They're not incorrect. But I don't think they really know what they're talking about, either. Blind squirrel found a nut. . . . Was handed a nut.

Anyway I think BW's right. The setting isn't the story. In my opinion, it's the least important part of a story between plot, setting, and character. (Some disagree.) But there are plenty of great stories that could take place in NY or Boston or Austin or LA just as easy as Las Vegas. So, even if the city and its feel is central to what you're doing, it's certainly not everything.

And just like fantasy authors with world builder's disease, i think there's a danger of getting stuck.