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Writing Books/Using real place, building names in a book


Hi, I am in the process of writing a YA novel. Currently I have left the names of places, the school's the characters attend etc out. I had originally planned on using the name of a real town, including the schools and some of the places the characters visit such as sports clubs, restaurants etc, but I am worried that there are laws against this. Do you need special permission to use names of premises? And would you have to pay royalties for use of the name?
I'd wanted to use real names to make the story more real.

Or would it simply be easier to use the town but change the names of the school's and places

Hi Toni,
This is a frequently asked question.  While there is no legal reason to change names, if it is fiction, then it is better to change the names, at least of the schools. You don't need permission to use names of restaurants and so on, but it is much more fun as a writer to invent them and write them so well that people think they are real. I did this in one of my novels and locals told stories of dozens of people looking for the restaurant. If you write well and use your imagination the story will feel totally real! In one of my novels, set in Dublin, I used real street names, but invented houses with street numbers that did not actually exist.

Good luck with it,


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Sandy McCutcheon


Author of 22 plays, 12 bestselling thrillers, a memoir and children's fiction.I can work with people on the process of writing, what to expect and ask for from an editor. How to work with the publisher`s marketing and publicity people. And how to survive book launches and publicity tours!


Published author of 22 plays, 12 bestselling thrillers, a young adult and three non-fiction titles. Visit his Moroccan blog at for a look at his blogging work.

St Andrews, Helsinki University and other institutions. Adult Educator of the Year Award, Australia

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