In fiction, a good guideline is ‘don’t use a real business for something bad.’ Readers like to recognize the setting in a book, but a business isn’t likely to appreciate a notorious crime occurring in their establishment.
Should the author use fictitious settings or change the names to protect the innocent?
Whichever the author chooses, the reader wants to feel immersed in the story’s setting. If the story doesn’t occur in an area the author knows well, a research trip could help the setting come to life on the page.
I took such a trip to realistically describe the setting for my current work-in-progress. But I just realized my fictitious crime scene business is in the same location as an actual business offering the same services. I had come up with a story idea, searched for the ideal town, then used the town as inspiration for description.
Do I have a problem, and if so, how do I solve it? The easiest answer is to change the town’s name, but I intentionally set the story in this specific town. I could move the business, but the crime is linked to the specific location. Does the ‘fictitious use’ disclaimer on the publication page cover this situation?