Writing Books/Names, etc.


I have another question... is it acceptable to use; titles of songs, celebrities' names, movie or television shows and characters, names of restaurants or specific products, etc. in a novel? My impression is, if readers were made aware of the origin, and the titles or names were written in italics, then it would be okay. For example; say I used McDonald's in my novel- The name itself wouldn't need to be italicized, but if I were including one of their products, like the Big Mac or something, that part would need to be written in italics? I've also compared my hero's looks to Hugh Jackman... Hope I'm not asking too many questions but I just came across this site & it's a gold mine of info!

Using the names of well-known celebrities, companies, and products is perfectly fine.  And no italics are generally necessary.  A few things to keep in mind, though...

First, you want to make sure you're not using the names in a disparaging way.  You couldn't, for example, make claims about the Big Mac that are untrue.

Second, be aware of trademarked names.  The Big Mac probably is.  Kleenex definitely is.  So when these names are used, the law says that the trademark needs to appear, too, whether the "registered" mark (the R in a circle) or the "TM" mark, depending.  (I recommend looking into the legal aspects of publishing for more information.)

As for comparing your hero's looks to Hugh Jackman... no problem there... except of course that you're really dating your material.  Fifty years from now, will Hugh Jackman's name mean anything to people?  Some people, sure.  But it's not safe to assume he'll be a household name, still.  

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Vincent M. Wales


I am a speculative fiction novelist (fantasy, science fiction, and so on). While I may be able to answer questions on non-fiction, my specialty is fiction. Please keep that in mind when asking questions.


For four years, I taught a series of fiction writing classes in Sacramento, CA.

BA in fiction writing.

Awards and Honors
My 2004 novel, ONE NATION UNDER GOD, won BEST FICTION in Fresh Voices 2006, BEST FICTION and BEST YA FICTION in the NCPA Book Awards, and placed as a finalist in BEST BOOKS 2005. In 2002, my novel WISH YOU WERE HERE won awards for Best Fantasy and Best Fiction/Drama in the 8th Annual SPA Awards. My latest work is a trilogy titled THE MANY DEATHS OF DYNAMISTRESS (a superhero memoir). The first book, RECKONING, was released in 2013 and won the SF category in the 2014 San Francisco Book Festival, took second place in the 2013 Royal Dragonfly Book Awards for the SF/Fantasy/Paranormal category, second place in the SF category of the 2013 Reader Views Reviewers Choice Awards, and was finalist in Foreword's 2013 Book of the Year Awards, Fantasy category. The second book, REDEMPTION, will be released in early 2015 and the final book, RENAISSANCE, is scheduled for release in late 2016.

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