My Writers Circle

Writing => All the Write Questions => Topic started by: Angeleyes on January 12, 2006, 08:59:30 AM

Title: Real place names in Fiction books
Post by: Angeleyes on January 12, 2006, 08:59:30 AM
Can anyone tell me if you can use real names of towns and schools when writing a fictional book. Thanks Ann.
Title: Re: Real place names in Fiction books
Post by: Nick on January 12, 2006, 09:23:22 AM
I can't see any problem in using real town names. Many books use real-life towns and cities as their setting. Colin Dexter's Inspector Morse books are set in Oxford, for example.

I'm not sure why you'd want to use the real name of a school in the town concerned - if it's fiction, why not make one up?

But I'm not aware of any legal reason why you couldn't use a real school name, if it's essential to the story. You might just need to include a disclaimer at the start of the book that all events described are imaginary, etc.

Nick GM
Title: Re: Real place names in Fiction books
Post by: aelfwin on January 12, 2006, 09:24:12 AM
Hi Ann, Yes, I do. I generally avoid being too detailed, like using the address of a house that really exists. I usually start with a town, or a city, then invent places within them that are totally fictitious. I use landmarks that people know and can relate to, like the Eiffel Tower or The Brooklyn Bridge for background but stay away from things such as 16 Adams Street, Oshkosh Wi. I'm sure others have some good points to share also. Hope this helps,, :) Aelf
Title: Re: Real place names in Fiction books
Post by: SuzieHarris on January 12, 2006, 09:32:48 AM

I had this problem with my book. The publishers insisted I got permission from all the named companies etc before they would publish.
Lin, of first and last outpost, also came across it with her book. We had to get permission of a well known brand of tea, in the uk, to use its name in her book.

Suzie  :o
Title: Thanks for your advice
Post by: Angeleyes on January 12, 2006, 09:40:52 AM
Thank you for all the advice given. Think I might change a few things now. Thanks again.Ann. P.S.Loving the site!!
Title: Re: Real place names in Fiction books
Post by: Lin on January 13, 2006, 11:47:06 AM
I am writing a book where I use real place names in a fiction novel.  My book is based on the Isles of Scilly in Cornwall and I use real names for the places where my characters are living but not real addresses, I also make that up as I go along.  I think Danielle Steel does that too.

I suggest for products and music and poetry you get permission and its good to do that because the people in the book will probably sell the book for you based on the fact there their product is mentioned!!   They like to advertise too!!

Hope this helps


Title: Re: Real place names in Fiction books
Post by: Nick on January 14, 2006, 07:50:48 AM
I have reservations about asking permission for mentioning any real product (though I do take Lin's point about the possible marketing benefits!). It is not a legal requirement to do so if you are simply referring to a product in passing (though obviously if you are going to denigrate it you need to be careful!). I don't suppose Stephen King asks for permission every time he mentions a Hershey bar in his books, for example  ;)

If you are quoting something like song lyrics, you do need permission, of course, unless it is out of copyright.

But my main point is that you shouldn't let yourself get bogged down by this, or worry that you can't write your book until you have permission from anyone whose products you may have mentioned. OK, you need to take reasonable care, but publishers have legal departments whose whole job is to worry about this sort of thing! The main thing for the author is to get the book written  :)

Nick GM