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  1. Senko
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    Senko Member

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    Political facts in fiction novels

    Discussion in 'Research' started by Senko, Oct 17, 2015.

    There are novels that describe some political affairs, for example, in the US Government.
    Say, for example, that as a part of your plot, people in the Capitol are discussing how to handle a situation with China, or some Middle East country, and they are even adding military movements in the story.

    Decisions taken by some congressmen, senators, and even the US President seem to be there also.

    My question is this:

    It is obviously a fiction novel. It´s written to be that.

    But, some things resemble so much situations in actual world. Some things seem to be taken
    from actual international conflicts, but changed or twisted somehow.

    Seems to me that it´s not illegal to write that way. Because we see that in some
    bestsellers.
    In fact, that´s what makes some novels compelling.

    But, could you face legal problems if you do that?

    How, as a writer, you know how much you can write?, and, considering that it´s a fiction novel,
    is everything allowed?


    My guess is that the Editor is the one that takes care about it.
     
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  2. X Equestris
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    X Equestris Contributing Member Contributor

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    I'm not sure what you're asking, precisely. If you're talking about portraying contemporary political situations, I don't see any possible legal problem unless you're using real politicians as main characters and such. Even aside from legal issues, it's best not to do that so that you don't alienate parts of your audience based on political affiliation and personal opinions.
     
  3. Lyrical
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    Lyrical Frumious Bandersnatch

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    I don't know about the legal issues surrounding it, but real political events and people are frequently used in literature. I present for your consideration the novel (and now film) Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter.

    Obviously, Lincoln wasn't a vampire hunter. But it makes for fun fiction. I don't see any problem with you using events or people that mirror real life events or people. Push comes to shove, if the people you have used are still living, you could change the names so that readers can only speculate if they're inspired by their real life dopplegangers.
     
  4. Desttinghim
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    Desttinghim Member

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    Yeah, I'm not sure how it could be illegal unless you live outside the US or anywhere with free speech. You can say anything you want. Although it can end badly if you use actual people that are still alive.

    Remember that everything is technically allowed when writing, but some things are taboo or make for bad writing. What you write is up to you, but how people react to it is not.
     
  5. Martin Richardson
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    Martin Richardson New Member

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    Take the Napoleonic Richard Sharpe, series and how it portrays Wellington and King George, though what I would say if you are using fact within fiction keep it simply as that. Remember it is a novel and therefore there is a certain amount of truth in the research. If you are quoting someone make sure it is accurate and do not leave yourself open to slander.

    Yes the " get out of jail" free card is the Editor's decision.
     
  6. jannert
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    jannert Contributing Member Supporter Contributor

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    @Senko - In your hypothetical situation, is the US President named Obama? Are the Chinese leaders 'real' in the sense that they are actually Chinese leaders at the moment, with their real names in use?

    I'd say if this is the case, you better be 100% accurate. However, if you change names, then it's obviously fiction, and you can do whatever you like, as long as nobody can identify anyone named in the story. I think it's perfectly okay to write 'contemporary' fiction about politics, as long as it's clear that it is fiction. In fact, it's done all the time! The subject becomes politics itself, not a particular living politician. Invent a president, invent a Chinese leader, and I would expect you'll be free to write whatever you want.

    I think you have more leeway with names when you're writing historical fiction. Lincoln isn't going to sue, and his descendants will probably recognise that Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter is speculative fiction. Nobody is going to take a vampire story seriously, are they?
     
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  7. Senko
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    Senko Member

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    Thank you all for your valuable comments.

    Now, let´s suppose that Actual names are not used. That is, President name is not real,
    other politician names are also just made up. But, we are making up political situations that would never happen in actual life.

    Could you face legal issues if you play with that in a novel (fiction novel).

    It comes to mind the popular TV series "The house of cards"
    Of course it´s a TV series. But it could as well be a fiction novel.
    They play a lot with situations involving key people in the US government (and maybe other
    countries government).

    They use very realistic setting, even the internal workings of the political system.
    But they may be twisting also how things are done in the real life.

    Or they may be showing in the story that the vice president is a corrupt person.

    I guess it´s also OK if you write something like that in a fiction novel.
     
  8. X Equestris
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    X Equestris Contributing Member Contributor

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    You'd be fine.
     

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