Since I work in higher education, I've decided to create a fictional college for my NaNoWriMo story this November. It will be a small liberal arts college, probably private. I've been doing a little research tonight on number of students, where the towns are located, etc. One college I looked at was Mary Baldwin College in Staunton, Va. I've stayed at the Stonewall Jackson Hotel near the American Shakespeare Center's Blackfriars Theater. If you like Shakespeare, this is the place to come. I loved it. Anyway, the college is near the hotel and theater, which are next door to each other. I could see one the buildings of the campus from my window during my trip.
I'm going to use my hometown as the layout for my community and the location of the college. I already have a county map and a topographical map of the town. There is a high school which has about 1000 students, around the number of students in the schools I had on my list. The other schools I looked at were Sweet Briar College and Randolph Macon College. My college will be like these only in scale and how they are laid out geographically next to their respective towns. I'll create the background and curriculum later, but now I just want to get a feel for the number of students and how the geographical information may play a role in my novel.
As for the name of the college, I think I'll use a person's name, a fictitious name, as someone who either donated money to the school, went to school there, or had some other relationship with the school. At Sweet Briar College, the school was created in memory of the daughter of founder. I liked that idea, and may use a similar idea for mine. I have a first name chosen, but I need a last name that sounds important and wealthy.
Now on to the characters.