I Am A Word Shaker.

If your eyes could speak, what would they say?

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Fair Use in Novels


I often get questions from Anons asking me what is appropriate to use in a novel, from song quotes to character names of wildly popular characters from other books (names that are obviously more unique than just Sarah or Alice or Amelia). So I’m going to lay the groundwork of what writers can and can’t use in their novels—or for their novels.

  1. Quotes from song lyrics. You can’t do this. Period. If you want to use quoted song lyrics, you would have to get permission from the artists themselves—and you would likely have to pay a heady sum of money to obtain that permission. A big part of the reason why you can’t do this is because song lyrics are often so short in the first place, and if you misquote even one word, you run the risk of being sued. In fact, you run the risk of being sued period if your book is somehow published with quoted song lyrics from an actual band. 
  1. Names of fictional characters. One Anon asked me if he or she could use a fictional character’s name as a nickname for one of his/her characters. As far as I know, this is not copyright infringement, especially if the character whose nicknamed Harry Potter does not in anyway resemble the actual Harry Potter. It is also not copyright infringement to use a fictional character’s name in passing. For example, in Forgive Me, Leonard Peacock by Matthew Quick, Leonard frequently mentions Holden Caulfield as a comparison to himself. Holden Caulfield, however, is not an actual character in the book. There’s also the question of cameos, and whether or not a writer can use an actual character as a cameo in the book. This is on shaky ground, because using a published fictional character as a cameo technically is not copyright infringement, until that character actually starts talking. However, from the article I linked to you, you still run the risk of being sued. Fan fiction is an entirely different matter, as most writers don’t profit from this work, and authors want to please enthusiastic readers. (I would both cry and feel EXTREMELY flattered if someone were to ever write a fanfiction of my book, When Stars Die.)
  1. Public domain. Any book before 1923 is fair use. Granted this does not mean you can re-write the entire book. Basically this means you can quote these works, while attributing their authors to them, in your novels. Frenchie,from Death, Dickinson, and the Demented Life of Frenchie Garcia by Jenny Torres Sanchez, frequently talks about Emily Dickinson and quotes her as well. Libba Bray puts a part of Tennyson’s poem, The Lady of Shallot, in A Great and Terrible Beauty. And when I do revisions for my novels, I’d like for my protagonist to quote parts of Edgar Allen Poe. 
  2. Titles. You don’t need permission to use song titles, movie titles, book titles, television titles, and so on and so forth. You can also include the names of things, place, and events and people in your work without permission. I mention Paula Dean in brief passing in the current work I’m writing, because she owns a restaurant in Savannah, Georgia, the place my character lives. 
  3. Pictures. I’m primarily talking about if you’re self-publishing or are allowed to work with your publisher (usually small press) on designing the cover. ANY stock photos listed on any stock photo website is fair game and can be photoshopped as much as you want to. However, you often have to buy these photos, but once you pay for them, they are yours to do with what you want. Unfortunately, you run the risk of having a similar book cover as another book, especially if you don’t do too much to that image beyond slapping your name and title of the book on it. The cover for When Stars Die received a heavy makeover, so it is not likely that I will find another book using my exact cover. I may find a book using the girl on the cover, but the plum blossoms, the colors, how the girl was edited, and my title and name are probably going to be next to impossible to find on another book. 
  4. Quoting famous people. If the quote from, let’s say, a famous speech in the past, is over 100 years old, that work is likely in the public domain, so it’s fair to use quotes from  Georgie Washington or another popular figure. 
  5. Referencing facts. If you’re referencing facts, like how the universe was made, this is not copyright infringement—they are unadorned facts. For the current novel I’m working on, I did use a website to help Gene’s teacher explain black holes, because Gene uses black holes as a motif to describe how people can have an effect on one another. However, because this is knowledge that you can pick up from any text book or even an astronomy class you took, I don’t need to quote the source I took it from because I did not repeat word-for-word what that website said. The website simply listed facts that you can find anywhere from a legitimate source. 
  6. Using quotes from TV, films, or advertising. These are copyrighted, so don’t use them, unless you want to get sued. 

For now, these are the only points I can think of on what writers are allowed to use and not use in their novels. If someone can think of anything more, feel free to re-blog and add to this list!

Ask Box is always open, and I think this is the last day for my book/Amazon gift card giveaway, so you better enter while you can!

(via books-cupcakes)

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site that you can type in the definition of a word and get the word

site for when you can only remember part of a word/its definition 

site that gives you words that rhyme with a word

site that gives you synonyms and antonyms


(via twerkmaid)

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"When you go into the ER, one of the first things they ask you to do is rate your pain on a scale of one to ten, and from there they decide which drugs to use and how quickly to use them. I’d been asked this question hundreds of times over the years, and I remember once early on when I couldn’t get my breath and it felt like my chest was on fire, flames licking the inside of my ribs fighting for a way to burn out of my body, my parents took me to the ER. nurse asked me about the pain, and I couldn’t even speak, so I held up nine fingers.

Later, after they’d given me something, the nurse came in and she was kind of stroking my head while she took my blood pressure and said, “You know how I know you’re a fighter? You called a ten a nine.”

But that wasn’t quite right. I called it a nine because I was saving my ten. And here it was, the great and terrible ten, slamming me again and again as I lay still and alone in my bed staring at the ceiling, the waves tossing me against the rocks then pulling me back out to sea so they could launch me again into the jagged face of the cliff, leaving me floating faceup on the water, undrowned.”

The Fault In Our Stars (This is my favorite quote from TFIOS and I think it’s about time it’s a quote on tumblr)

(Source: queueforquality)

Filed under this part is so underrated tfios

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Hello, writerly friends~ ♥︎

You asked for a Writing Advice Masterpost, so here it is! Below you will find a collection of the best questions and answers from the last two years. Not only that, but they are also organized so you can find the answers to your questions quickly and get on with writing.

But wait, there is more!

This post is more than just a collection of advice, it’s a nexus for writing advice, resources, and information! That’s right, this post is going to grow over time. I will be updating this masterpost WEEKLY with new answers, writing advice videos, playlists, and more! So, make sure to bookmark this page and follow my blog (maxkirin.tumblr.com) so you don’t miss a thing~ ♥︎


Virtual Writing Academy

Motivation & Inspiration

Planning, Outlining, and Getting Started


Editing & Revision

Hot Button Issues

General Advice


Writing Music & Playlists

Last Updated: 07-11-14. Click HERE to see the latest update.

I would totally do this for you guys, but I’ll leave the master-post making to my newsletters as I see my posts pop up in my activity feed.