Can I use a song title or lyrics for my story title?

You may have heard a song which touches your heart and you feel like the title summarizes all that you want to say in your novel, thus you decided to use it for your story title. Are you allowed to do that?

If you have noticed, song titles are sometimes identical. For example, there’s one called Always by Bon Jovi and another with the same title from a Korean singer Yoon Mi Rae which was used as part of the soundtrack for the mega-hit K-drama Descendants of the Sun. There’s I Can Wait Forever popularized by Air Supply in the 1980s and another song with exactly the same title released by Simple Plan. What does this tell you? It’s legally acceptable! In fact, according to Fowler (2011), “titles are not copyrightable” (par. 3); therefore, you are not violating any copyright law for using a song title for your story.

But there was a point in time when you do not want the song title but a portion of the lyrics. This one is a little bit tricky. You need to make sure that the part of the lyrics you want to use is not specific. I think it’s safe for you to borrow I Can Wait Forever If You Will From Air Supply’s I Can Wait Forever because it sounds generic, but if you are planning on using Let’s Marvin Gaye And Have It On by Charlie Puth, the singer who popularized Furious 7 tribute song to Paul Walker See You Again, think again. You might get in trouble. For more information about related issues, checkout this blog by Mark Fowler:  http://www.rightsofwriters.com/2011/02/titles-and-law-can-i-call-my-novel.html

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Clouds and people

Clouds

Clouds remind me of people. Some of them are thin and feathery which signals a sunny day, while others are dark and ominous which means a stormy day ahead. Regardless of how they are, you know that they are just passing. So cherish those who brightens your life and do not be too absorbed with the ones that dampens your spirit for though the sun seemed hidden on a cloudy day you know that it is always there – bright and strong.

“It’s more fun in the Philippines!”

Tourist

I used to read a lot of Filipino novels when I was young. There was this writer whom I liked very much for his detailed description of places his characters went to. Whenever I read his novels, it seemed like I was traveling with his heroes and heroines, too. His settings were not extraordinary special but he made it sound like they were. Because of him, I dreamt of exploring the Philippines. I haven’t yet done that, but in the near future I will take time and be a tourist in my native land. Afterall, it’s more fun in the Philippines!

Can I use real place in my story?

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.

Gone forever

photo (2)Voyage

Whenever I see a body of water, I remember my father. He was a seafarer and he was always on a voyage. He died of cancer when I was 12. Though it was a long time ago, I can still remember with clarity the dream I had on the first night of his death. We were both standing on a nameless port. Behind him was an enormous ship where he was to embark on his voyage to nowhere. Although I didn’t know in my dream that he was already dead in real life, I felt the finality in the hug when we said our goodbyes. As I was looking at him walking towards the ship, I was engulfed with inexplicable sadness.  When he disappeared from my sight, I knew he would be gone forever.

Awe-someness

sakura 2Awe

 

One of the perks of living in Japan is witnessing sakura blooms in Spring. I’m always in awe of its beauty. Part of its magic is its timing. It comes after a long period of cold weather. It somehow tells me to never give up when life’s adversities come knocking me down because at the end of the road there’s something magical waiting – like a sakura in full bloom!

To be with or not to be…

 

Companion

When I was a lot younger, I was never picky about companions. I adjusted my personality based on who I was with. I was just too eager to please everybody back then. Later, I realized that no matter how much you try to please others, you can’t just make everybody happy. There will always be people who, inspite of what you did for them, would still find fault in you or who would talk behind your back. Now, though I still try to be civil to people I don’t like (the rude ones and of course, the narcissistic), I feel less and less compelled to please anyone just to have companions. Being with others you don’t really like for the sake of having people around you proved to be stressful. I have also discovered that being alone does not always mean being lonely, or that having companions does not always guaranty happiness. So don’t be afraid to be true to yourself, folks!