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Question
Iíve written a fiction novel and have a question for you.  

Am I allowed to reference names of current athletes, or an actor, etc in the novel?
  
Here are three examples as to what Iíve done in my novel.  

1.  I have a main character sitting at a Boston Red Sox game and I refer to specific players by name.  

2.  I also mention something like the following.  Ö Every boy playing Little League baseball dreams about becoming the next Babe Ruth, Roger Clemens, or Nolan Ryan.  

3.  Iíve also mentioned that one of my characters resembles the actor Matt Damon.  

Iíve been unable to find whether or not this is acceptable.  Any ideas?

Thank you.


Answer
Yes, it's perfectly acceptable, Michael.  No question about that.  But the better question is: Do you really want to?

Now, Clemens, Ryan, and the Babe will always be known.  To mention them is not a bad idea.  But in 25 years, will people know who Matt Damon is?  Well... probably.  But as for someone looking like him?  You mean, your character resembles him as he is now... not as he'll be in some future time.  

Imagine reading a book today and seeing a passage that says, "Donna thought Jim looked a lot like Walter Huston."  What would that mean to you, today?  Unless you're a movie buff, probably nothing.  And fifty years from now, Matt Damon's name may mean little to the readers of the day.

What I'm getting at, obviously, is "dating" your material.  Sure, references to current celebrities, current fashion designers, current TV shows, etc., can make your writing seem trendy and cool, and add a certain amount of realism to it.  But it's a fairly superficial way to do it, and the realism is fixed in time.

Only you can decide if that's really what you want to do, and it's worth reconsidering, if you just assumed it was the right way to go.

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Vincent M. Wales

Expertise

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.

Experience

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

Education/Credentials
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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