If you are writing about a place you are familiar with, you can use milestones such as, Lydia (a fictitious character), stood by Crossway Avenue (a fictitious street) beside the National Stadium, on the mainland of Lagos, South West Nigeria. You can see that the only real structure there is the National Stadium and its location. I think it is possible and safe to use fictitious names and places, but give them a sense of realness by using a well-known mile stone. And if you want to make only the character fictitious while other details remain real, that is fine as well.
It makes your writing colourful when you can use kilometers to measure the difference from one scene to another. For instance in my book, A Girl’s Calender, I had never been to Kano, but I studied the maps and so I knew the distance between Lagos and Kano, and how many hours it was to travel by road. I also studied the distant between one local government and the other, the markets and hospitals used in my book. It doesn’t make sense to say, Sheila went from school to home. It is better to say Sheila walked home from school, some 150 meters away. It makes your writing richer and more three dimensional. Remember that though you are writing fiction, you should make it three-dimensional. A book someone can relate to.
Abiose Adelaja Adams is a midcareer writer and journalist. Having authored at least three books published on Amazon.com, A Girl’s Calender, Viral Diamonds, I am Not Afraid, she is passionate about coaching aspiring writers. She is the Chief Executive of the Global Center for Creative Writing as well as co-director of Pressplay Media Events, a company committed to mirroring societal ills through literary lens. For the purpose of Creative Writing, you can follow her on @itizwritten and www.facebook.com/pressplaymediaevents for Creative Writing tips, tweets, events and trainings.