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I've written a crime novel, which is on its final draft before seeking publication now. The novel is set in my hometown. A major "set piece" scene is set in a real location, a business, which I would like to keep in the novel, owing to the unique design of the building. I don't portray the business in any bad light, as far as I am concerned, but a couple of pretty violent murders occur there. Any thoughts on whether I should change this?

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While I'm not a lawyer, I suggest that you chat with one. If you get a publishing contract, the publisher's lawyers will do the research. –  Lauren Ipsum Mar 24 at 16:49
    

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This depends in part on how recognizable the landmark is to readers. On the one hand, if your scene is set in Times Square, it's hard to change anything -- enough people know the place that if you do, it'll just draw attention to your changes (which may be distracting). On the other hand, if your scene is set in Joe's House of Gourmet Eggplant in some small town most people haven't heard of, then readers will probably recognize neither the landmark nor any changes you make to it. So in that case, you could change the name of the business with no harm done to your story, and if you're at all concerned that would be safe. You said you want to use it because of the building; does it matter what the name of the business occupying that building is?

On the other hand, you might just approach the business owner about it; maybe he'd actually like the exposure.

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