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Fiction and real places : FAQs • Writing Forum | WritersDigest.com

Fiction and real places

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Laycrew
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Fiction and real places

Postby Laycrew » Tue Dec 18, 2012 11:00 pm

I am writing a short story that is purely fiction about an old hospital that really exists and is known to be haunted. Can I use the real name and place or should the name of the place be made up as well to stay on the safe side?

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Anya Kylash
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Re: Fiction and real places

Postby Anya Kylash » Wed Dec 19, 2012 12:59 am

To be on the safe side, make up the name.
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Re: Fiction and real places

Postby shadowwalker » Wed Dec 19, 2012 9:48 am

Yeah, I think I'd agree you should use a fictionalized name. It might make a difference if the hospital is abandoned, or belongs to a private family or some such. And going on the assumption it's haunted might cause problems if the owner is trying to sell the property. If it's that important to identify it, you could always have a forward instead, which states the story was 'based on' such and such a place - which gives you a little more leeway as well.
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Re: Fiction and real places

Postby pls » Wed Dec 19, 2012 10:11 am

You can't "libel" a place, but you can be sued at any time for anything by anyone. Use your discretion when selecting "real" places for fictional locations.
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mammamaia
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Re: Fiction and real places

Postby mammamaia » Wed Dec 19, 2012 10:44 am

does 'old hospital' mean it's just been in use for a long time, or has it been closed?... if closed, and commonly spoken/written about as being 'haunted' i see no reason why you can't name it...

but if it's still functioning as a hospital, you'd best make up a fake one...
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Re: Fiction and real places

Postby Laycrew » Wed Dec 19, 2012 10:57 am



I should give specifics. It was a hospital and is renovated to be an artists retreat now. It is located in Virginia CIty, Nevada and widely known for being haunted. There are stories from ghost hunters all over the internet about the place. My story would use information that has already been shared over and over about the ghosts that reside there. Even if I changed the name of the place, in the story its location is very much a part of what makes this place even creepier so people who have been to Virginia CIty would know the place I am talking about. I have been inside the basement of St Mary's Art and Retreat center before. But that was over 20 years ago.

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Re: Fiction and real places

Postby pls » Wed Dec 19, 2012 12:58 pm

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louiseh87
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Re: Fiction and real places

Postby louiseh87 » Wed Dec 19, 2012 1:59 pm

In that case, its surely going to be pretty obvious just from your account and description where you mean, to anyone who knows about it. Changing the name won't change that. I'd say for notable places, you should be fine. I don't think anyone from Davos tried suing Thomas Mann ;)
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Jowen
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Re: Fiction and real places

Postby Jowen » Wed Dec 19, 2012 6:17 pm

You could call it by its old name the Saint Mary Louise Hospital, not used since 1940, rather than its new name St. Mary's Art and Retreat Center. The ghosts may come back to haunt you, or to collect some revenue [earned from publishing their story] to support their good works, but it's not likely that they'll sue. ;)
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Re: Fiction and real places

Postby Laycrew » Wed Dec 19, 2012 7:24 pm

Thank you everyone! Very helpful information.

I don't want to encourage any of those ghosts to come visit me though. I have to see if I can get through writing about them. When I went there, we were visiting a girl who lived there and she even said the place was haunted. But they were used to it. :?

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