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I'm writing a fictional novel. I would like to know if there would be any legal consequences to writing a purely fictional horror mystery about a real resort area or should the author change the name of the resort as well as the location.
Thanks for any help. I'm new to writing and don't know where to go to get this type of information.

Hi, Danielle!

Yes, there could possibly be legal consequences, so it's best to change the name of the resort and quite possibly the town it's located in. While it's not necessary to change every aspect, companies can be quite sensitive about negative takes on their locations (and it's hard for a horror novel NOT to be a negative take.) It's just easier all around to change the name. Stephen King did that with "The Shining." The Timberline Hotel at Mt. Hood National Forest was renamed The Outlook Hotel in the novel. But he used the layout of the actual hotel (staying in Room 217 while writing the book, which became Room 237 in the novel, etc.)

Does that help?  

Oh, and a gentle mention: When referring to your manuscript, it's *either* a novel, or fiction (such as a "horror novel" or a "fiction manuscript".) A novel is, by definition, fiction. Referring to it as a fictional novel when discussing it with other writers or when querying to an agent or editor might mark you as a beginner and give a unintended negative impression of the book before they even start reading.

Good luck!


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Cathy Clamp


I'm happy to answer questions about any aspect of writing novels, from the beginning kernel of an idea through completion. I can help with writing a query letter and synopsis to an agent or editor. I can explain publishing terminology and acronyms. I can also assist with questions about verifying the credentials of agents/publishers and how to proceed once you've been accepted for publication. I can teach the rules of formatting a manuscript, creating viable plots, characterization and flow in the following genres: romance, science fiction, fantasy, thrillers, suspense, horror, women's fiction, mainstream and mystery.


I'm a USA Today bestselling author of urban fantasy and paranormal romance for Tor/Forge Books. Along with a co-author, I've published fifteen novels (combination of mass market and trade softcover) since 2003, and have contracts for four more books through 2011.

Romance Writers of America, Science Fiction & Fantasy Writers of America, International Thriller Writers, Western Outdoor Writers, Horror Writers of America.

Tor/Forge Books, Western Reflections Publishing, BenBella Books, Running Press, Wild Child Publishing. Many others.

My educational background is limited to real life experience of publishing novels commercially for the past five years.

Awards and Honors
USA Today bestseller, Waldenbooks Mass Market Paperback Top 20 bestseller, Nielsen BookScan Top 20 bestseller, RT BOOKreviews Career Achievement Award winner, 2009, Book Buyers Best Award for Paranormal, Romantic Times Best Werewolf Novel, Write Touch Readers Award, EVVY Best Historical Chronicle Award, The Lories Best Paranormal. Many others.

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