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can I write about other fiction?

Posted: December 6th, 2010, 9:20 am
by mountains
Hi Nathan,
I am thankful you are still available for answering questions. There are not that many places to turn to.
I am curious if a work of fiction could be written about a character reacting to a work of fiction? If that sounds confusing put it this way (as an example). Let's say I am writting a novel about Mary who stumbles across a book titled My Sister's Keeper by Jodi Piccoult. Then after reading the novel my character's life and perspective is greatly altered and the book becomes a catalyst to the story I am writing about Mary. This question of course could also apply to a movie, I suppose.
Is that taboo? Tacky?
I have been trying to research books like this out there and have only come up with two (by the same author) Mr. Darcy Broke My Heart and Jane Austen Ruined My Life.
I haven't read either yet - but I ordered one through Amazon to check it out - not well known enough to be at my public library I guess.

A nano post came up in November about fanfiction. Is that what this is?
Please help. Any direction would do!!

Re: can I write about other fiction?

Posted: December 6th, 2010, 10:09 pm
by Nathan Bransford
Hey, if it works it works. This has been done, though my mind is drawing a blank at the moment. But do bear in mind that things could get dicey if you're appropriating someone else's material/characters, etc. if it's under copyright, so if you are planning to do this you might either stick to works in the public domain or otherwise consult with a copyright/publishing attorney to see what would be within bounds for you to use.

Re: can I write about other fiction?

Posted: December 7th, 2010, 1:13 am
by mountains
Thank you so much for answering Nathan. It was a treat to see your response.
Would you be so kind to elaborate?
Do you have any recommendations how I contact an attorney specializing in copyright/publishing? Do I do that before I write it? The item I have in mind is too contemporary to be public domain. It is copyrighted for sure. However I do not plan on copying it or rewriting it. My intent would be to discuss it from my character's point of view.

Re: can I write about other fiction?

Posted: December 12th, 2010, 2:50 pm
by polymath
Lawyers whose practices involve the issue at hand are banned word in intellectual property rights. They tend to concentrate near publishing capitals, Hollywood, New York, etc.

An online listing service based on keyword search "intellectual property rights lawyers";
http://www.intellectualpropertylawfirms.com

Working from someone elses intellectual property is a dicey proposition no matter how it stacks up. Opinions on what's infringing and what's not vary across a gamut. It's a best practice to ask for express permission even in the cases of Fair Use. The real issue in my estimation is the costs and traumas of litigation, well founded or not from either side's legal standing.

On the other hand, what's known as a False Document can be an original creation of an author for the sake of originality, thus avoiding any taint which may acrue from using someone else's intellectual property. A False Document in the case given would be a fictional novel from which the overlying novel takes its cues.

Re: can I write about other fiction?

Posted: December 12th, 2010, 8:19 pm
by steve
mountains wrote: I am curious if a work of fiction could be written about a character reacting to a work of fiction?
Check out MARCH by Geraldine Brooks, SHOELESS JOE by WP Kinsella, THE BOOKSHOP by Penelope Fitzgerald, and FLAUBERT'S PARROT by Julian Barnes for some good examples of this.

Re: can I write about other fiction?

Posted: December 13th, 2010, 12:07 pm
by mountains
Thank you so much for all the advice. I will look into the suggestions.