1. ghostkisses

    ghostkisses Member

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    Can I kill real celebrities in my story?

    Discussion in 'Research' started by ghostkisses, Sep 10, 2017.

    ...Or will I be hunted down with pitchforks and fire for doing so? Context: my mc has a *wee* bit of a twisted philosophy - she thinks that killing the good guys will send them to heaven, which she thinks is much more favourable than our own glorified, floating hunk of hell (her words, not mine.) Said mc has a taste for classic rock... You can see where this is going? It's generally the main plot of the story too, so I can't exactly cut it altogether.

    Do I make rip-off like characters of said musicians, or is that even worse? Make up my own hair rock stars? Also, Bowie isn't in my story, but I'm 100% sure diamond dogs is mc's literal theme tune - sings it everywhere, including covered in blood as she's carving up her vics, plus he's a massive inspiration to her because he teaches her to break stereotypes.. I can imagine myself parting with some of the musicians in this story but not Bowie - but Idk if I'll get backlash bc people don't wanna associate their fave musician with a dead chick that goes around slaughtering everybody. Secondly, my oc's attire generally consists of a 'teenage frankenstein' top (Alice Cooper song) and a 'diamond dogs' choker. I can't imagine her wearing anything else. What do I do?
     
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  2. Alphonse Capone

    Alphonse Capone Active Member

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    Not sure if you can or can't in a legal sense to be honest. I guess using names of very famous people would possibly be copyright infringement as a lot of them are trademarked.

    But using them as inspiration would be fine. Combine some to make even better characters!
     
  3. Fernando.C

    Fernando.C Contributor Contributor

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    I'd avoid using real celebrities for her victims. Make up rock stars and rock bands and any other celebrities you need for her to kill or target, that would actually work a lot better and give you a lot more freedom storywise. In terms of your MC's love for Bowie, that I don't see much problem with, she loves Bowie and listen to him, I don't see too much problem with it. I've read a lot of books where MCs talk about their love for certain singers (or other type of celebrities) or listen to real songs. The fact that she is a serial killer who also happens to love Bowie and Alice Cooper say nothing about either of these artists.

    That said, I don't know much about the legal aspects of these things though, so you need to ask people with more legal knowledge if there are some legal pitfalls here.

    Sidenote: I really like the premise of your story, it's dark and twisted and sound like the type of thing I'd probably enjoy reading. Is the genre horror?
     
  4. ghostkisses

    ghostkisses Member

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    It's probably horror. I don't think you should look out for it any time soon though, I have about maybe 2-3 pages done and I'm not even sure I want to keep them. I have a *looooooot* of notes on this story, but not actual.. Story. Yet. Also, I'm sorta allergic to dialogue, so... Unless you want a lone, kinda awesome phrase sprinkled now and there under a sea of metaphors and massive paragraphs.. I don't think this book is reading material. I'm just asking about the celebs in case I ever do decide "yup, this is a book now." Plus. I gotta get my education and I don't write all that much. But thankyou for the interest though!
     
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  5. Laurin Kelly

    Laurin Kelly Contributor Contributor

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    The other thing that I found about using a real celebrity in my WIP is that it can date your MS, if you care about that. I dropped my current WIP about 2.5 years ago and recently just picked it up again, and discovered that one of my characters was interviewed on the Queen Latifah Show, which of course is no longer on the air and hasn't been for a while. Ouch. I changed the character to a fictional one so I don't run into that again.

    Also, if you're looking to get published, while you can mention your character singing Diamond Dogs and can use the song title, I would discourage you from including actual lyrics. I had some in my current MS and had to remove them for copyright reasons or my publisher wouldn't even look at it unless I had permission from the artist. Billie Joe from Green Day isn't returning my calls, so out they went. :(
     
    Last edited: Sep 10, 2017
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  6. big soft moose

    big soft moose An Admoostrator Staff Supporter Contributor Community Volunteer

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    I'd suggest you can use real life celebs as context but make up the major characters - e.g in the intro to lullaby town (robert crais) where the client is a famous film director someone says in introl "you've got Spielberg ,then you've got Lucas who doesn't direct any more, then you've got Peter Allan Nelson (the fictional character) ...."

    So suppose your band was called the voodoo penguins (don't use that name - its my friend daryl's band) you could have a character reminisce that they remember first seeing the 'penguins open for Green Day in New York .... which sets the context and the sort of music they represent
     
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  7. Fernando.C

    Fernando.C Contributor Contributor

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    That's fair enough. I just wanted to let you know that you've got a very solid premise in your hands, in my opinion at least :) .
     
  8. ShannonH

    ShannonH Member Supporter

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    In one of Colin Bateman's books, his character meets and witnesses the demise of British television personality, Bill Oddie.
     
  9. Fiender_

    Fiender_ Active Member

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    Personally, I think it would be in bad taste. Even if your main character has some internal "good" justification for it, you're still presenting the death of a real life person. There's also the potential nightmare of that person actually dying before/right after your book's release (assuming you seek publication). Imagine what *that* might do to your PR. Actually, come to think of it, even if the celebs in question don't die until years later, if they do die in a tragic way (as opposed to of old age), then people might not look back on your book as fondly.
    There's also the possibility that some readers might not know who the celebs you mention are, and you could end up dating your book for a specific audience. Also, the celeb(s) in question might not appreciate your portrayal of their deaths and even if they can't sue, they could stir up a storm and potentially harm your sales and career.

    There are soooooo many ways it could back fire. You may as well just make an analogue. Someone who is basically this celeb, and most people who read the book will know it's basically that person, but it gives you the freedom to do just about anything you'd like while avoiding a lot of criticism. There's a character in Neal Stephenson's Seveneves for example who is basically Neil DeGrasse Tyson.
     
  10. JadeX

    JadeX Senior Member

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    Sure. Tom Cruise literally exploded in Preacher.
     
  11. archer88i

    archer88i Banned Contributor

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    That's not how that works. Trademark and copyright are entirely orthogonal concerns. I may not be a lawyer, but I can tell you that much with certainty.

    Your biggest problem here, OP, is that no one is going to give a damn about your celebrities in a few years. Stick with killing imaginary people, because you'll lose less impact over time that way.
     
  12. Alphonse Capone

    Alphonse Capone Active Member

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    Fair enough.
     
  13. rktho

    rktho Contributor Contributor

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    If it wasn't explicitly set in an alternate universe it would take me out of the book, bigtime, because I'd know how those celebrities really died or that they're still alive.
     
  14. bananafish

    bananafish Member

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    Please just kill all of them.
     
  15. Moon

    Moon See ya space cowboy... Contributor

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    This might help: http://www.betternovelproject.com/blog/real-people/

    Doesn't say anything about killing though. I'd just stick to killing off bootleg versions of any famous persons.
     
  16. Endersdragon

    Endersdragon New Member

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    Why not just go the Simpson's route and make it so obvious that they are a certain celebrity but don't actually call them that?
     
  17. rktho

    rktho Contributor Contributor

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    "In other news, President Rump was killed in an attack on the White House an hour ago."
     

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