You may have asked yourself a number of times: Can I use real places in my story? Is it legal? Well, there are a lot of novels out there that use real places and the authors were never sued. Some of them who were bold enough even pictured out those places in a bad light, e.g. Dan Brown’s Inferno where he called Manila as ‘the gates of hell’. Though many Filipinos reacted strongly to it, the book still became a bestseller and Dan Brown got away with it. But I guess that’s because he’s Dan Brown. But to be safe be careful with how you use real places in your story. For starters, you may want to stay away from describing it in a negative way. You may try to be critical if you’ve already created a name for yourself. But for now, be positive!
Some writers, like those who created Descendants of the Sun, a mega-hit TV drama from South Korea, used a fictional name where they set most of the scenes in the drama. It was also effective because the events in the story have similarities to real events. So viewers were able to identify with it.
Whether you use a real or fictional place for your setting is not the biggest issue in writing a story, but how you make everything – from plot to dialogues – authentic.