1. archerfenris
    Offline

    archerfenris Active Member

    Joined:
    Jun 1, 2013
    Messages:
    217
    Likes Received:
    67
    Location:
    Savannah, GA

    Naming artists/movie titles/real towns in your work

    Discussion in 'General Writing' started by archerfenris, Jun 22, 2013.

    I just finished the first chapter of my first novel and must say I'm quite excited. However, as I was writing I noticed that I was naming real musical artists, movie titles, and books. I remember reading a review about a Tom Clancy book in which he was criticised for using a real town and place as the setting for a terrorist attack.

    Was wondering if there are any unwritten rules for this? Am I going to somehow piss off Metallica if I name drop? Will no where-ville, Alabama get angry at me if their town is the setting for my crime novel? What thoughts/ knowledge do you guys have on this? Thanks.
     
  2. Michael Shaw
    Offline

    Michael Shaw Member

    Joined:
    Jun 10, 2013
    Messages:
    20
    Likes Received:
    1
    Location:
    United States
    I don't know if there are any official rules, archerfenris. I know that in my novel, I mention Pachelbel's Canon in D, but I realized that it probably wouldn't be a big deal anyway, as the song is quite old.

    In another writing forum, on the same subject, one person put it quite simply: it shouldn't be a problem unless it's negative. So, to use an extreme, if you say that Metallica is terrible and the worst band ever etc. (which you most likely are NOT saying, ha), they of course wouldn't like that. As far as the town setting for a crime novel, I'm not sure. I think you should just write it how you want and then look at your novel as a whole and see if there's any part of it that may seem "untactful" toward the real town. All in all, though, I think it's fine. For example, in Seven Days in Utopia, a golfer travels to Utopia, which is actually a real town. There are negative and positive characters portrayed, but they were fictional people with fictional names, so no one would be offended by that.

    Hope this helped and that your novel comes along well,
    Michael
     
  3. chicagoliz
    Offline

    chicagoliz Contributing Member Contributor

    Joined:
    May 30, 2012
    Messages:
    3,295
    Likes Received:
    815
    Location:
    Pennsylvania
    It's generally fine. You can even have a character personally hate Metallica. The only problem would be if you somehow specifically portrayed the band in a defamatory way -- indicating that they always trash the hotels and venues where they play, that they're particularly difficult to deal with, that some of the band members raped the groupies and ordered food they didn't pay for and stole items from the local store -- that kind of thing. But if a character just doesn't like their music, and thinks they're the worst band ever, that's fine -- that's the character's opinion.

    The bigger problem with references specific movies, songs, or television shows is that they date the piece. If you're writing a period piece that very specifically needs to take place during a particular year, then it's fine to mention them. But if it's supposed to be more of an "anytime" piece -- where whatever is happening is supposed to be more or less whenever the reader is reading the story, then it can make the piece seem outdated if it's a few years old. And as a practical matter, by the time it's published, it will be outdated.

    I'm not sure why the townsfolk would be mad if the town is a setting for a crime novel. Unless you're mocking the town, and implying that everyone who lives there is a backward moron, I don't see why they would care. If it is based on some real characters from the town and you're showing some eccentricities of some of the townspeople, they may even embrace it. Savannah, GA still makes money from tours based on Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil (although this is a nonfiction book).
     
  4. Erasmus B. Dragon
    Offline

    Erasmus B. Dragon Member

    Joined:
    Jun 20, 2013
    Messages:
    39
    Likes Received:
    2
    I was kind of wondering the same thing. My story is set in the little town of Bon Secour, Alabama, which is a real place. It's down on the Gulf Coast, and it's got this Southern Gothic, swamps and bayous thing going without being 'just outside N'awlins' which is a little overdone. I'm just trying to portray it in the best way possible, which isn't hard because I love the place.

    I read a great book not too long ago that was full of pop-culture references: books, comics, movies, video games, bands, you name it. Actually, two books that I can think of: Ready Player One, and Geekomancy.
     
  5. blackstar21595
    Offline

    blackstar21595 Contributing Member

    Joined:
    Jan 21, 2013
    Messages:
    598
    Likes Received:
    34
    Location:
    Brooklyn,NY
    Also when you reference them, it makes a reader want to look them up and it might distract them instead of make your story better.
     
  6. archerfenris
    Offline

    archerfenris Active Member

    Joined:
    Jun 1, 2013
    Messages:
    217
    Likes Received:
    67
    Location:
    Savannah, GA
    Thanks for the replies guys. I can see now how dropping these titles and names actually dates the book, which is probably something I want to avoid. Not to mention it may distract the reader. Thank you for contributing guys, great info.
     
  7. captain kate
    Offline

    captain kate Active Member

    Joined:
    May 4, 2008
    Messages:
    876
    Likes Received:
    28
    Location:
    Cruising through space.
    Metallica, more than likely, isn't going to care that their in your novel unless it absolutely damages their brand. And what I mean by brand, is their image, product and ability to market themselves. Unless it harms that, naming them would be one of their lesser worries. Using their lyrics, however, would be a different story since they were the first to sue Napster (among others), so I wouldn't do that.

    As for naming towns? Patricia Cornwell described Richmond-in fact there places in town she used in her crime scene that I've been to several times during my life. Did Richmond care? No, because she was a 'hometown girl' in the fact that she lived in town. Basically, most people in a city, or town, probably won't know about the book so they won't have and opinion ya or nay. Plus, at least at this point in time, there's no law in the US preventing you from using a city as a setting for your story. Hell, the first chapter of my third Talia novel takes place in DC and has a rather entertaining motorcycle chase around the mall, ellipse and White House. Further in the story it'll be set in Richmond and have a combination of freight and passenger trains that come through town.
     

Share This Page