Can I use street and building names?

by Peter Hill

Question: I'm writing a story and I was just curious, are street and building names and landmarks acceptable to use?

Answer: Certainly you can use these names to create authenticity regarding your setting. Readers who know your book is set in a real city will expect to learn a little bit about that city when reading the book. And readers who live in the city will know if the geography doesn't feel accurate.

What you might want to be a little vague about, or make up, are the actual addresses of characters, businesses, etc. You don't want to suggest that you are writing about the real people who live at those addresses (especially if those people would not welcome an association between them and the characters in your book).

For instance, there used to be an actual bank in London with the same address that was given for Sherlock Holmes in Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's books. For decades they received a lot of mail addressed to Sherlock Holmes, asking for detective services. It was a bit of a nuisance.

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