Actual places

by Krista Fenstad
(Bothell, WA)

Question: Is it ever OK to mention the names of actual places in a fictional novel? Such as a theatre on Broadway or a small bar in a small town as long as it is positive and not derogatory?

Answer: Of course. I couldn't count the number of times the Eiffel Tower has been mentioned in fiction, or the Empire State Building, or St. Paul's Cathedral. Famous places are fair game.

I am not a lawyer, so don't take this as gospel, but as far as I know, the only time you run into trouble is if something you write harms someone's business by damaging their reputation. If you make someone famous in a good way, why would they object?

I remember a science fiction novel by Spider Robinson that included a character based on a well-known Toronto restauranteur who had a unique gift for remembering what his customers' favourite meals were. If anything, the book only increased the man's business.

Of course, I believe Spider did change the name of the character and the restaurant, which is often a safer course of action if you're at all concerned how someone will interpret your description of them. But in this case, those who had been to the restaurant knew instantly who the character was based on.

Click here to post comments

Join in and submit your own question/topic! It's easy to do. How? Simply click here to return to Questions About Novel Writing.

search this site the web
search engine by freefind

Celebrating our 2nd year as one of the...

 Step-by-Step Novel Planning Workbook

NEW! Make Money Writing Nonfiction Articles

"I've read more than fifty books on writing, writing novels, etc., but your website has the most useful and practical guidance. Now that I understand how a novel is structured, I will rewrite mine, confident that it will be a more interesting novel." - Lloyd Edwards

"Thanks to your "Create a Plot Outline in 8 Easy Steps," I was able to take a story that I simply just fooled around with and went willy nilly all over, into a clearly defined, intriguing battle where two characters fight to keep their relationship intact, and try to find a balance in control of themselves and their lives. Thanks to you, I'm not ashamed of the poor organization of my writing." - Nommanic Ragus

"I am so glad I found your site. It has helped me in so many ways, and has given me more confidence about myself and my work. Thank you for making this valuable resource, for me and my fellow writers. Perhaps you'll hear about me someday...I'll owe it to you." - Ruth, Milton, U.S.A.

"I never knew what to do with all the characters in my head, but since discovering Dramatica I am writing again in my spare time. Thank you for making this available. Yes, it is a bit complex, and it does take time, but I love it because it works." - Colin Shoeman

"I came across your website by chance. It is a plethora of knowledge, written in a simplistic way to help aspiring writers. I truly appreciate all of the information you have provided to help me successfully (relative term) write my novel. Thank you very much!" - Leo T. Rollins

"I can honestly say that this is the first website that is really helpful. You manage to answer complex questions in relatively short articles and with really intelligent answers. Thank you for taking the time to write these articles and sharing them so generously." - Chrystelle Nash

"...had no idea that a simple click would give me such a wealth of valuable information. The site not only offered extremely clear and helpful instructions but was a very enjoyable read as well. The education from your wonderful site has made me a better writer and your words have inspired me to get back to work on my novel. I wish to give you a heartfelt thanks for How to Write a Book Now, sir." -- Mike Chiero