1. ScottM84
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    ScottM84 Member

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    Putting a fictional character into a real life event

    Discussion in 'Character Development' started by ScottM84, Apr 1, 2015.

    I have an idea for a story, and it involves putting a character in a book into a real life event in which he would be very noticeable. The story line would cast him as a member of a Czechoslovakian Olympic hockey team. There wouldn't be any scenes from Olympic games in the story, but I'm wondering what the guidelines for doing something like that would be since the names of the actual roster are readily available.
     
  2. BayView
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    BayView Contributing Member Contributor

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    I've certainly seen it done - I mean, you can find the original passenger list for the Titanic, but nobody's too fussed that Jack and Rose aren't on it.

    But I did recently read a hockey novel in which the character was repeatedly called a member of the USA Team, instead of Team USA. I wondered if the reversal was done to avoid problems with the organization, because most of the other hockey details seemed solid. (And maybe I'm wrong that the team would be called Team USA. I'm Canadian and it's always Team Canada, but maybe Americans flip the name around sometimes?)

    Are you writing anything that would bring the Czechoslovakian team or the Olympics movement into disrepute?
     
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  3. ScottM84
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    ScottM84 Member

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    The idea of the story is the player's attempt to defect from the Eastern bloc to North America. It was actually inspired by research for a couple of blog posts I made recently. There wouldn't be any negative light on the Olympics, and while the fact that the player wants to defect could be viewed as a negative on the country of Czechoslovakia, I know that's been done with countries before and Czechoslovakia doesn't exist as a nation anymore, so I'm guessing that wouldn't be an issue.

    You're right about the Team USA thing. That's what I've always heard our team called. What part of Canada are you from? Up until now, my stories have all been children's and teen fiction based on a family from Lloydminster.

    Edit: Even though I write fiction and enjoy it, I don't typically read fiction. Therefore, I'm not as familiar with what is done in fiction as many readers would be.
     
    Last edited: Apr 1, 2015
  4. BayView
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    BayView Contributing Member Contributor

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    I'm in rural Ontario.

    It's possibly there was a trademark issue with Team USA, and you're right, that wouldn't apply to the team from a extinct country!

    I can't see who would object to this - you can have the standard disclaimer about being a work of fiction at the start, and I'd think you should be good. (IANAL)
     
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  5. Commandante Lemming
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    Commandante Lemming Contributing Member Contributor

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    Yeah - all historical fiction is like this at some level. The inherent paradox of the entire genre is that you put fake people in real events, often having fake interactions with real historical figures, and yet nothing about history changes. Usually this works because the characters are not important enough to merit mention in the history books, and as such can "fill the gaps" in historical narrative.

    That said, any number of historical fiction titles center on people who, if they were real, would have totally gone down in history. Yet somehow they leave the progress of history unscathed by their insertion. The two examples that come to mind immediately are Maximus Decimus Meridius from the movie "Gladiator" and Judah Ben-Hur from "Ben-Hur" - both of whom were big deals in their own world, and neither of whom have any basis in reality. Plus, the genre has a long history of creating fake characters to stand in for real ones who don't want to be in the book, or composite characters who fill roles that were in real-life taken by many people. A classic example there is Jonah Hill's character in "Moneyball" - Hill's character, a stats geek who helps Oakland A's general manager Billy Beane re-orient his team-building around sabermetrics - is HUGE in the narrative and leaps off the screen. One problem, he never existed. The real-life Beane consulted a ton of different stats people to do all the stuff that Jonah Hill does in the movie - but for the sake of showing the narrative, all of those things were given to one character...which is probably the reason he "pops" so much. Of course he has a bunch of endearing and quirky traits...HE'S A FICTIONAL CHARACTER.

    So yeah...go for it.
     
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  6. ScottM84
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    ScottM84 Member

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    Thanks for the replies. I'm going to do it. It'll probably take me a while, but the idea is screaming at me to write it.
     
  7. Mckk
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    Mckk Moderator Staff Supporter Contributor

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    Plenty of Czechs left Czechoslovakia because of the communist government, and in fact plenty of Czechs still hate Czech politics. My ex-colleague is a Czech-American whose parents left the country for the US during that time, and have since returned. I have a friend who's half-Czech-American whose mother defected and met her American husband in the US. I also have a friend whose husband was travelling at the time when communism ruled and once he left the country, just didn't return, and I believed his family members who remained in the country were punished for this. I don't have details of their stories unfortunately - but in any case, it's a very common thing.

    They will tell you they're a highly suspicious people - eg. that they are suspicious of everyone and everything. Oddly, you will find plenty of Czechs who don't like the Czech Republic, but are, at their core, highly patriotic lol. They also, in general, take a keen interest in politics.

    In fact, my father-in-law was in the ambulance driving through the protests during the Velvet Revolution (he was one of the medics) and my husband often sat in the ambulance with him as a little child and remembers some of the scenes.

    Anyway, to this day, there's a very strong hatred of the Russians in the Czech Republic still I think.

    Anyway, my point is - yeah you'll be fine. People defected all the time back then so it's perfectly realistic to write about such a person, to be honest!
     

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