Name Dropping

Part of Dragon is set in a world similar to ours.  They have gates to a fantasy world with dragons, elves, and magic, so it’s not quite the same but it’s similar enough that major characters have jobs and live in a world you would recognize.

I am having a dilemma as I revise it, and perhaps you can give me some opinions.  I don’t know how I feel about using real names for things.

Right now I have it both ways.  I have a character drinking pomegranate juice and Sprite, which is listed by name.  I also have a group of people watching Tartanic at a Renn Faire, although I currently don’t have the band name.  I just refer to them as a Scottish band.  Part of me would like to use the names, but at the same time I always have an odd reaction to brand names when they appear in books.

As a writer, do you use names for real things?  As a reader, do you like it or does it bother you?

2 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. deshipley
    Mar 24, 2012 @ 17:50:18

    As a writer, I prefer to either use general terms, like your Scottish band example, or general terms + made-up, spoofy names that I figure either most people will know (thus adding a layer of humor) or not get at all (in which case, no worries, they’re not missing anything). In a silly video I made with my sisters and a friend, for instance, we had the butler placing an order from Pizza Daddy’s — kinda familiar, yet copyright free.

    End of the day, though, copyright/trademark issues aren’t my primary concern: It’s that some reader may actually not know what a Sprite or what-have-you is. Sure, most probably would, but why assume and unnecessarily risk alienating people? — people like me who, half the time, just don’t bother to keep on top of what everyone else takes for granted as obvious.

    I figure we writers are creative enough that we can work around brands with pretty little hassle. That said, so long as what you make whatever you’re talking about reasonably clear (calling them Tartanac *while* specifying that they’re a Scottish band), that ought to be fine. It’s when writers rely on the name alone to paint the whole picture that they’re setting readers up for blank confusion.


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