Friday, June 8, 2012

True or False?

I've been thinking a lot recently about how to use real life people and events effectively in books.

You can fictionalize them, of course, give them new names to veil the identities and put them in new locations while still using the basic biographies and events.  Or you can be upfront about it and use the real names and real events within your fiction.  I think this second approach is probably more suited to historical fiction because if you're using real people and events which are still current, there will always be some reader who knows more than you and will point out what's wrong with your 'fictional' scenario.

Why have I been thinking about this, you ask?  It's to do with my new book.  While most of the characters in it are only loosely based on real life people, and in most cases a mixture of people at that, I feel like I need to use a real band to indicate how far the fictional band has climbed up the ladder of success.  But if I use a real band, I need my characters to interact with the band members in the real band and that may not work.  I have chosen a real band I've met myself, and that my partner has toured with in the past, but I'm still uncomfortable with writing those characters.

Have any of you dealt with a situation like this?  How did you deal with it?


  1. I don't use real anything -- bands, songs, location names, political names, etc. It not only dates the book, but there might be legal trouble, too. But that's just me, and I'm certainly no lawyer!

  2. Good point! There may be legal reasons not to.... Hmmmm May need to rethink.

  3. I don't use real people. It's a tricky situation. And I agree with Lexa. It could date your book and lead to legal issues. I'd avoid it if possible.

  4. I read a writer's post last year where he had referenced a song and a member of a real band throughtout a chapter and his editor "made" him change it.

    There are so many things to think about isn't there?