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Which do you prefer? (Read Post for Info)

  1. Non-fiction

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  2. Complete Fiction

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  3. Parody Fiction

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  1. Dinxo
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    Dinxo New Member

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    Advice regarding Fiction vs. Non-Fiction within Setting

    Discussion in 'Setting Development' started by Dinxo, Apr 5, 2015.

    Hi, I am very new to this website and I was hoping to get some advice or suggestions from other writers and readers regarding a conflict I've been having when developing my universe.

    To give you some back story, I'm currently working on a slice-of-life themed web-comic series which will be set on the planet Earth we know and love during a time period we all currently live in. However, I have already decided to set the story in a fictional town with fictional places, fictional businesses and a fictional history to give me more creative freedom with the setting while still making the universe and the characters relatable.

    My problem is that I am now struggling with deciding whether or not other aspects of this universe should be made fictional such as pop-culture icons (eg. bands, actors, video games, movies, brands, etc) or if I should just relate back to the real-world ones. I've also been playing with the idea of making 'knock-offs' or 'parody counterparts' for example, "Apple Computers" would be "Pear Computers" or "Britney Spears" would be "Bridget Sparks" and both interpretations would be very obvious references to their non-fiction counterparts.

    Please let me know your opinions and I might even put up a poll to see what everyone is thinking.
     
  2. Shadowfax
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    Shadowfax Contributing Member Contributor

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    The problem with "pop-culture icons" is that they may well date your work, as in, would you recognise a reference to, say, Tiny Tim - a pop-culture icon with a very specific message from my youth?

    Another thing you should consider is whether Apple Computers would consider your parody of Pear Computers to be defamatory enough to take you to court over it. Especially as you say that "both interpretations would be very obvious". While they might not win, could you afford to fight them?

    I have to say that I usually find parody fiction irritating, as the author appears to be having a rant about his own personal opinion and, presumably, thinks he's hilarious.
     
  3. Dinxo
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    Dinxo New Member

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    These were my thoughts exactly, I didn't feel like these would be appropriate to the universe or even the story mainly because it feels too much like I would be writing an episode of "The Simpsons" or "Family Guy".

    Also, my intention of using "pop-culture icons" is NOT to reflect a certain date or time of living but to make my characters more three dimensional who are living in a modern but ambiguous time. For example, one of my main characters has a particular rock band they listen to and follow religiously which means it could come up in the story quite frequently. With this information already established about my character I can either create a fictional rock band to fit into this character slot or pick a non-fictional band that I feel would also fit neatly in this character slot.

    Discussing with other writers in my local area I was given conflicting advice, some saying that fictional 'icons' would be a better fit to my setting and give me more creative freedom however, I also have other writers telling me that using non-fiction references will help readers relate to the world and the characters a lot easier and that by using "fictional bands" will make the setting feel more alien (which is not what since I am trying to depict a slice of life story).
     
  4. Shadowfax
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    Shadowfax Contributing Member Contributor

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    OK, going back to my youth...there was a local band called The N'Betweens who played small gigs all around the country.

    They changed their name to Ambrose Slade and played small gigs all around the country.

    They changed their name to Slade, and had a string of hits (ever heard "Merry Christmas Everybody"?)

    What I'm suggesting is pick the name of the band when they were unknown. Aficionados will get the reference, and everybody else WON'T think you're getting on the bandwagon (pun intended!)
     
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  5. Dinxo
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    Dinxo New Member

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    Thanks for your advice! You've been very helpful and it all seems pretty clear now. :)
     
  6. Commandante Lemming
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    Commandante Lemming Contributing Member Contributor

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    It depends on what you're doing. If it's a comedy and a parody, I'd go with fake names. Actually that allows you to exaggerate stereotypes even more, especially if they're so thinly veiled that everyone is in on the joke (This would be the standard approach of say a Saturday Morning Cartoon - especially common when the characters are anthropomorphic animals - think "Chip n' Dale Rescue Rangers" or "Duck Tales"...oh wait I just dated my childhood to the early 90s...darn)

    . On the other hand, if you're writing biting satire with a political edge, or even just stuff for adults, you can use the real names (South Park and Family Guy, for instance, don't veil anything). A lot of it also depends if you're using those celebrities as main characters (in which case you'd veil them for both creative and legal reasons) or random insertions (in which case, just use them straight.)

    In my own case, I'm writing a serious near-future storyline - so for me I have to use the real names when I reference current people (for my characters, they're historical artifacts). But if I were writing the same thing as a comedy, I'd probably denounce the names. Actually, I probably will have to denounce one planned celebrity insertion (I'm electing Maroon 5's Adam Levine to the U.S. Senate from California in the future), because that joke ended up taking a role in the actual plot, and I can't put words in someone's mouth....actually that might be a good example.

    I make a couple jokes about celebritites running for political office. One of the off-hand references is going to be to "The Labour Peer, Baroness Arulpragasam of Hounslow"... which if you look up those details implies that the rapper M.I.A. is sitting in the British House of Lords. It's a one-off, patently-ridiculous joke and will probably get a snide scoff from anyone who reads it (including and especially M.I.A. if it came to that). However, I probably will NOT actually refer to "Senator Adam Levine of California", because, while I invented that reference as a one off - I have a lot of U.S. politics in my storyline and the fact that I put him there meant that I accidentally inserted him into the actual plot. So, I probably will have a Senator with an oddly similar name who used to be the lead singer in a major band - but since that character is going to have dialogue and a role in the political action - I'm not using the name because I don't want any lawsuits if it ever goes to print (and if Adam Levine is reading this, don't worry you're one of the good guys... :p ) .
     
    Last edited: Apr 6, 2015
  7. daemon
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    daemon Contributing Member Contributor

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    This technique contributes to the overall feeling that the story is tongue-in-cheek. Great for comedy, if that is what you are going for.

    In general, if the story takes place in a fictional place, I think the story works best for me if there are no references to names I would recognize.
     
  8. wellthatsnice
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    wellthatsnice Active Member

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    A couple points.

    First, i think authors do this an awful lot. Take Stephen King for example, almost all of his books take place in a USA that is very recognizable to the reader (only normally with an added supernatural aspect). However to allow him to have an element of control, he created a fictional locations like Derry Maine, Castle Rock, and Shawshank Prison that he uses in his stories. These places "exist" in our world in his stories, but because its a fabricated town or place King has tons of control over its people, landmarks and history. He then tends to keep pop culture references true to the real world only creating a fake celebrity or political figure if they interact with the story in some way.

    Second, i wouldn't worry to much about using real names or knock off names in your work. Parody law and fair use pretty much cover you off. Its why hot tub time machine didn't need to worry about Lougle (google) and why movies like "the social network" dont get sued, despite only being partially true. Sure you want to be cautious...but nobody is going to come after you for this stuff.
     

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