1. Kilby Blades

    Kilby Blades New Member

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    Need advice on a Hollywood story and the use of real star names

    Discussion in 'Character Development' started by Kilby Blades, Oct 20, 2016.

    Hey, folks. I'm writing a novel that deals specifically with themes of celebrity. Even though my important characters--the characters who I am really writing and who the book is about--will be original, it would be a smoother read if I didn't have to create an entirely original universe of Hollywood celebrities. What I think I would want to do is drop names that people already know when I am trying to establish settings and situations. For example, my characters may be at the Oscars and I might mention the name of a real celebrity to describe who they're sitting next to in the audience or who they walk behind on the red carpet; another example might be one of my characters losing a part to a well-known actor, or attending a party at a celebrity's house.

    What makes me uncomfortable is that, in certain parts, I would have to fictionalize things about certain celebrities. It would make sense for the story because my characters are in that world and would know and speak to the celebrities, but icky because these are clearly real people.

    So, what should I do? Only ever mention real people if they never speak and create a brand new celebrity for everyone who does something? Can anyone think of fiction that very successfully integrates mentions of real world celebrities?
     
  2. Lea`Brooks

    Lea`Brooks Contributor Contributor

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    The House of Night series turned celebrities into vampires. Magnus Chase and the Gods of Asgard turned Taylor Swift into a dwarf.

    But everyone knows those things are fictional. If you start making up stories about celebrities lives that could be real, you may run into a problem. I don't see an issue with name dropping. Just be careful with the stories you make up about them.

    Just my opinion though. :D
     
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  3. Iain Sparrow

    Iain Sparrow Banned Contributor

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    I think if Seth Grahame-Smith can turn Abraham Lincoln into a stone cold vampire slayer, you can fudge a little with the lives of real life movie stars.:)
     
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  4. Kara Gatsby

    Kara Gatsby Member

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    I'm running into the same thing! Mine's set in Hollywood/LA in the 1930s and 40s, though, so all of these examples are set in that period:

    All the Stars in the Heavens by Adriana Trigiani (Clark Gable, Loretta Young, lots of others)
    A Touch of Stardust by Kate Alcott (Carole Lombard)
    The Garden on Sunset by Martin Turnbull (currently free on Amazon; Ramon Navarro, Alla Nazimova, tons more)
    Blonde by Joyce Carol Oates (Marilyn Monroe, Arthur Miller, Charlie Chaplin Jr, Edward G. Robinson)

    Here's another one, set in modern-day Hollywood:

    Oh! You Pretty Things by Shanna Mahin (Honestly I don't remember offhand if this has dialogue with a real celebrity, but it's insightful as far as their personal assistants go).

    Maybe you could change their names but describe them in a way that it's obvious who it's supposed to be.
     
    Last edited: Oct 20, 2016
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  5. xanadu

    xanadu Contributor Contributor

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    This is how I've handled it. One of my novels deals heavily with music, predominantly around a local music festival that the main characters want to play at. What I did early on was to mix real bands and made-up bands throughout--so maybe my character goes to the music store and picks up three new albums...the new Foo Fighters, a classic Genesis, and the new Jimmy & the Musketeers (the last one being fictional). Scatter the fictional ones throughout and it seems fairly natural. No explanation, no backstory, just matter-of-fact-ly name-dropping as if they were just as real as any of the others. For the local festival, I had all fictional bands for the exact reason you mention--I don't want to claim the Foo Fighters played a festival that doesn't exist on a date that they were doing something else entirely. But I also had my characters attend actual concerts that took place--Boston playing Musikfest in Bethlehem, PA, for example--just to flesh it out a bit (it was story-relevant...I wouldn't recommend this just for padding purposes).

    I'm sure there's a gray area, and you can likely get away with doing some things. I know there are books out there that use celebrities (I remember one Barbara Kingsolver book that had the main character on Oprah in one scene--was it Pigs in Heaven?), but I certainly don't know where the line is. I'd consult someone with knowledge on the law (namely a literary attorney) if you want answers you can truly trust. Otherwise, best to play it safe.

    Hope that helps.
     
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  6. Kilby Blades

    Kilby Blades New Member

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    Thanks for your thoughts, everyone. I didn't know about the novels that had used Taylor Swift and Seth Graham-Smith, though I agree that writing them not as themselves but someone totally different makes it more of an alternate universe situation than a gray area. I was probably going to have some characters speak but kind of spoof them maybe like SNL would do, making a little good-natured fun of something about them. I have decided to try writing some things that mention a celeb and integrate them into the story and post here to see what folks think. I'll be hitting you up again ;)
     

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