Writing about real people in fiction

And some of the best stories are real ones, actually lived by actual persons. In the most plaintiff-friendly decisions, the courts have said that a jury need only determine whether "the libel designates the plaintiff in such a way as to let those who knew him understand that he was the person meant.

This is the better approach. They can be scary if you do not know what they mean. Controversy[ edit ] Morality and legality[ edit ] The morality of real person fiction is debated.

Her name is Ablene. Parody may not work in your story, but it is a option. What if your story is really about your next door neighbor whose life is crazy-weird but totally interesting?

However, the line is fuzzy. If the target is a public official or a public figure, then the plaintiff must prove the statement was made with actual knowledge that it was false or with a reckless disregard for the truth.

No stone was left unflung. Neil Gaiman 2 Put one word after another. RPF is generally totally absent from Usenet, especially in older and more established newsgroups. Margaret Atwood 1 Take a pencil to write with on aeroplanes.

Sometimes a story cries out for an appearance by a real person, perhaps a famous person your readers already know. These range from innocent crushes to explicit erotica. Stop arguing with yourself.

Keeping it Real: A Rough Guide to Using Real People As Fictional Characters

Libel requires a false and defamatory statement of fact "of and concerning" an identifiable living person or business entity. If the target is against a private individual, courts generally require some fault or negligence by the defendant. This is more genuinely fiction, in the sense that the story is carried by characters Vidal made up, but in terms of creating an enjoyable read, the results are mixed.

Famous people can make cameo appearances in your story. David Hare 1 Write only when you have something to say. If accused of a defamatory statement, consider publishing a retraction. The final issue to think about is this: Rodney Smollathe author of one of the two leading treatises on defamation, has neatly summarized the spectrum of risk: The evil lies in what the person did, not in their mannerisms or appearance.

Rely on publicly-disclosed information, such as court documents and news reports wherever possible. Wash the kitchen floor, hang out the washing.But if writing is based on observation, is it possible not to use real people in fiction?

At some level, the answer to that has to be no. Writing is founded on noticing the quirks, mannerisms and idiosyncrasies displayed by our fellow humans. A Fiction Writer’s Guide to Using Real People in a Story Note from Nick: This is a guest post submission that brings up an interesting (often forgotten) point: there could be legal issues regarding using “real life” people, namesakes, etc.

in your story. Good fiction tells stories about people. And some of the best stories are real ones, actually lived by actual persons. Not only are many real stories interesting, but audiences want to read about "real" stories even more than they want to read pure fiction. That's why so many stories -- and here we.

The Legal Consequences of Using Real People in Fiction. Ask a Lawyer Series When Fiction & Reality Collide. By Attorney Lloyd J. Jassin. Real person fiction or real people fiction (RPF) is a genre of writing similar to fan fiction, but featuring celebrities or other real people.

Real person fiction

In the past, terms such as actorfic were used to distinguish such stories from those based on fictional characters from movies or television series. Using Other Real People in Your Story Ordinary people like your best friend, cool uncle or crazy neighbor, have greater rights to privacy than celebrities.

If you’re writing fiction, keep it fiction. (if you use celebrities and other real people in your fiction), you may have reason to be more concerned about potential liability.

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Writing about real people in fiction
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