Kindle Forum banner
1 - 20 of 34 Posts

·
Registered
Joined
·
707 Posts
Discussion Starter · #1 ·
My story is New Adult and I name a couple of Texas universities and airports in my story. I was wondering if I should use the real names or make them up. I'm more worried about one where a bomb was planted in an airport. See examples below.

Example 1
Lash snatched the paper and read it closely. There were a few sentences stating that Javier was a graduate of the University of Texas and that his wife was deceased. What caught his attention were two of the names listed as surviving family members: Naomi and Anita Duran.
Example 2

"Megan," he squeaked. He cleared his throat, annoyed that he sounded like prepubescent school-boy. "Yeah, I remember you. You caught me off guard. You look different."

"I bet. I got a full make over since I moved back home and started taking classes at Abilene Christian University again. You like?" Megan stood back and twirled around as if giving him a fashion show.
Example 3
He heard soft snoring and chuckled when he realized it was coming from Bear. He gave her a light pat then turned on the radio. He kept it low not wanting to wake the sleeping pair.

And in the latest news report, eighty-eight passengers on Flight 5256 leaving from the George Bush Intercontinental Airport to Albuquerque are believed dead. Airport officials are refusing to comment at this time to the source of the explosion. There is speculation that a bomb may have been responsible. Airport baggage handlers are being questioned at this time. All flights have been canceled and airport has been shut down until further notice.
What do you think? Make up fake names or keep the real ones?
 

·
Administrator
Joined
·
10,131 Posts
Linda Castillo said:
My story is New Adult and I name a couple of Texas universities and airports in my story. I was wondering if I should use the real names or make them up. I'm more worried about one where a bomb was planted in an airport. See examples below.

What do you think? Make up fake names or keep the real ones?
In the bomb passage, why not just dodge the issue by saying something like "... eighty-eight passenger on Flight 5256, en route from Albuquerque to Reno, are believed dead ..." That sounds more like what they might actually say in a rushed "breaking story" newscast anyway, rather than taking time to state the formal full name of the airport.

You could do the same with the second university name: "... I got a full make-over since I moved back home and started taking college classes again ..."

The UT reference seems so generic, and it's back story, so you're not going to be bringing it up again, right?

I do use almost all real places, businesses, and brands in my book, but if you do that, you shouldn't say anything that would strike the entity in question as being bad publicity. If your book becomes a big seller, you want them to think, "Ah, great, I got a product placement in a best-seller," not, "Hmm, my trademark is being damaged ... what's my lawyer's number?"
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
5,749 Posts
Becca Mills said:
I do use almost all real places, businesses, and brands in my book, but if you do that, you shouldn't say anything that would strike the entity in question as being bad publicity. If your book becomes a big seller, you want them to think, "Ah, great, I got a product placement in a best-seller," not, "Hmm, my trademark is being damaged ... what's my lawyer's number?"
This. I use a lot of real places/brands in my books but also make them up when it's more convenient to do so. In the book that comes out next month, my heroine and her friends are doing a summer intensive at a famous ballet boarding school in NYC when they come across a dead body right outside the building (that also houses several other arts organizations) and decide the solve the murder.

It's pretty obvious (to my target audience) from context clues the school is clearly modeled after the School of American Ballet, which is located in Lincoln Center inside a building that also houses Juilliard. But since I'm dealing with a murder happening there, I made up a whole new world. They're at the Manhattan Ballet Conservatory and the dead girl is a Julian College student.

But I also mention that they're thinking of taking a class at the Broadway Dance Center, which is an actual place. But since none of the action (particularly none of the murder investigation) actually takes place at Broadway Dance Center, I have no problem actually using the real name.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
2,118 Posts
I use a mix if real and made up- if something bad is goig  to happen, or you're speaking badly of somewhere, satirize the name or create a new place. Otherwise use a real place name.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
977 Posts
Hi Linda,

Becca brings upsome very good points and simple solutions if you have concerns. But I don't think you need to be overly concerned as long as you clearly state in your front matter/disclaimer something like, "Names, places, characters and incidents are the product of the author's imagination or are used fictitiously..." That should cover your hiney. I have been known to use my alma mater as a setting in my books, as well as many places around Arizona. They exist, but are used fictitiously. I think you'd be okay either way, but do whatever makes you comfortable. Good luck!
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
5,749 Posts
I've mentioned that a character was a Duke grad or an Arizona State grad (both of my alma maters). Since those were just passing references rather than actually setting a murder there, I felt no necessity to make up fake college. I only made up Julian College instead of Juilliard School because the dead girl was a student there and several other students and faculty members are suspects.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
7,973 Posts
I have a similar situation with a trademark. The people at the animal shelter named my dog 'Oreo'.

My novel is based on the true story of how we adopted Oreo. Nothing really bad happens in the story, although Oreo is a rascal for the first half of it: he runs away, etc. I am clearly using the word 'Oreo' as the name of a dog, and there is no way anyone will be confused about Nabisco's cookies being involved. 'Oreo' is one of the top ten popular dog names in the US.

All that said, should I change Oreo's name?
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
1,340 Posts
In 2010 a French fabric shop sued a novelist who wrote about a clearly fictional murder that took place in the shop. I don't know how the case turned out.

http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2010/mar/17/lalie-walker-marche-saint-pierre

I love books with real products, streets, and landmarks. I agree with others who've said you're pretty much on safe ground as long as you don't show a business in a bad light. A publicly owned state college, airport, etc. would be a safer bet than a private one if you're going to have a crime take place.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
16,323 Posts
Amanda Brice said:
I've mentioned that a character was a Duke grad or an Arizona State grad (both of my alma maters). Since those were just passing references rather than actually setting a murder there, I felt no necessity to make up fake college. I only made up Julian College instead of Juilliard School because the dead girl was a student there and several other students and faculty members are suspects.
On the other hand, mystery writers place murders in actual locations all the time. As long as you are not implying that the owners of the location were at fault in the murder, why not?

It is a regular practice in mystery fiction and other fiction for that matter. I might hesitate to mention a business by name at least without checking with the owner, but universities, public locations, government buildings, streets and airports are certainly fair game to mention.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
5,749 Posts
Oh, I definitely agree with you there. (But Juilliard is a private institution and because of the nature of the investigation it was just easier to make up a new school.)

I think you have to think about the reason why you'd want to use a real place or make one up. There are good reasons on both sides, but my general rule of thumb is that if there's something in the manuscript that's a bit uncomplimentary or would put a privately-owned entity in a bad light, then I avoid it. (Mostly because I have no desire to deal with obtaining permissions and whatnot.)
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
16,323 Posts
Amanda Brice said:
Oh, I definitely agree with you there. (But Juilliard is a private institution and because of the nature of the investigation it was just easier to make up a new school.)

I think you have to think about the reason why you'd want to use a real place or make one up. There are good reasons on both sides, but my general rule of thumb is that if there's something in the manuscript that's a bit uncomplimentary or would put a privately-owned entity in a bad light, then I avoid it. (Mostly because I have no desire to deal with obtaining permissions and whatnot.)
I agree that it's a bad idea to show a private institution or business in a bad light. I doubt that Juilliard is going to get upset about being shown as the location of a murder as long as they weren't responsible in some way, but it doesn't hurt to err on the side of caution either.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
670 Posts
As a writer of political thrillers, I use real place, building and other structure names. I use discretion, however, with commercial names. I may use real well-known hotels, for example, for meetings or love affairs. But if I have a murder or other violent event take place, I'll make up a name rather use an actual one.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
5,749 Posts
And that's the thing -- erring on the side of caution. If it's not that hard to make up a new place and can possibly avoid problems down the road (I agree that Juilliard would probably not care about my usage), then I will. But I think making up University of Austin in the OP's situation is overkill.

My friend Liz Talley writes for Harlequin SuperRomance. One of her recent books featured a recruiting scandal in the football program at a Louisiana college. She wanted to use LSU (she's an alum), but Harlequin told her to make up a new school. I would be inclined to agree with them there.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
78 Posts
The smaller the entity (business, college, etc.) the more likely I am to make up the name for it, even if it is based on a real place. The book for my current series is set in San Francisco, and I'm keeping all the street names, etc., but small businesses always get made-up names. If the location plays a big part in the plot, I'll make up a name, too.

Beyond the legal issue, you may want to make up names to avoid dating yourself. For example, you mention airports, and airport names have been known to change (San Jose Airport vs. Mineta Airport). Using certain brand names or popular actors in your book might make your book seem older than it actually is. If you're writing historical fiction, that's great, but specific references might make a book seem out-of-date.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
1,975 Posts
If I'm going to have characters do more than walk through or eat at a place, I tend to make them up, it just seems safer that way.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
13 Posts
I'm new here and this my first reply to a subject.
This is interesting to me, as in my novel, I made up names of hotel/casinos in Las Vegas and on the island of Aruba in the Dutch Caribbean. I was playing it safe as far as liability went.
Then an old time editor told me that if you don't say anything bad about a real place, they aren't going to sue you.
I've been reading John Sanford's Prey novels lately and quite often he mentions a newspaper in Minneapolis, where his novels are set. I thought the "Star Tribune" was a fictionalized newspaper, but googled it and it's a real newspaper in Minneapolis Minnesota.  He doesn't say anything nasty about the paper itself but does knock his fictional characters who work there.  And he also has fictional characters at the Star Tribune who are not shown in a bad light.

I make a reference to a real hotel/casino in Vegas: Wynn Las Vegas.  I say some made up place is across from Wynn Las Vegas.

Ed.
 
G

·
Quotes:

". . . you shouldn't say anything that would strike the entity in question as being bad publicity."

". . . if I have a murder or other violent event take place, I'll make up a name rather use an actual one."


Sorry, but I disagree.

Margaret Truman wrote several mysteries, one of them titled "Murder At The White House"

Agatha C. wrote "Murder On The Orient Express"

Don't recall either author being called on the carpet.

If we carry this argument down the line, we could say make up the name of a country. You don't want the U.S. or Canada or Australia causing an uproar because you placed a fictious crime within their borders.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
5,659 Posts
I used real names in my work because the backdrop is historical fiction and there were important places in the bohemain art world where artists hung out. Not using those places would make the book seem less believable. Some of them had pretty wild reputations anyway and it is widely known from articles on the internet to I doubt anyone is going to be mad about it.  At any rate, owners now don't know every detail that went on over 100 hundred years ago on any given night.
 
1 - 20 of 34 Posts
Top