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Christyp
03-30-2010, 04:43 PM
What would a factual book based on one's life, but with names and places changed be classified as? I don't want the common reader to know it's a nonfiction about my life, I've changed names in order to avoid the good old lawsuit, but now I'm not sure what the genre is. Would it just be considered Women's Lit since there IS a nice love story embedded towards the end...you know HEA.

shaldna
03-30-2010, 05:14 PM
fiction

specifically semi-autobiographical. but it would be classed as 'fiction'

It could be chic lit. It depends on the book and the story.

Also, bear in mind that it's not the readers you have to worry about, it's the people you write about. Changing names isn't enough. They can still sue if they think you are writing about them

Christyp
03-30-2010, 05:20 PM
Even with the names changed they can sue if they realize that it's written about them? So how do I avoid that? Use a pen name and hope for the best? lol

shaldna
03-30-2010, 05:25 PM
Even with the names changed they can sue if they realize that it's written about them? So how do I avoid that? Use a pen name and hope for the best? lol


It's hard to say. I mean, I write about real people all teh time. And they know I do it. But i'm also very aware that I'm treading a dangerous path. Which is why I always lets said people read what I have written before I send it off. But these are people close to me.

People can still sue regardless if you change the names. If they know it is youw riting, and if they are able to identify themselves in the book and others are able to identify them in the book, then they can sue you. And you don't even have to write anything BAD about them for them to do it.

Also, while using a pen name may mask the problem, legally you're not covered.

Chris P
03-30-2010, 05:27 PM
Dave Eggers' What is the What? is a memoir that's marketed as a novel. It's pretty clearly non-fic when you read it, so I'm not sure which parts are fictionalized and which parts aren't.

Christyp
03-30-2010, 05:31 PM
Ah, my twin name! I was thinking about you last night. I usally go by Chris with my close friends and family...good thing I decided the full name on here, huh?

So how do I solve this little legal problem? I know damn well the person I'm worried about won't give me his permission to use his likeness, as the story isn't exactly flattering.

PortableHal
03-30-2010, 07:11 PM
Chris, you might look here (http://http://prowritingtips.com/2009/03/how-to-write-about-real-people-without-getting-sued/). Jennifer Roach has written an entire article about doing this kind of thing.

And best of luck!

thehairymob
03-30-2010, 07:15 PM
Unless they wanted people to know it was about them then it would be very silly for them to sue you. Of course that may change if your book became a best seller.

shaldna
03-30-2010, 07:48 PM
So how do I solve this little legal problem? I know damn well the person I'm worried about won't give me his permission to use his likeness, as the story isn't exactly flattering.


Then write another book.

Phaeal
03-30-2010, 09:08 PM
You need to change the characters and events enough so that they can't be tied to the real people and real events. Which is almost certainly going to change the story significantly, and maybe for the better.

Note that people looking to find themselves in something WILL do so. Proof: Lindsey Lohan and the Etrade Milkaholic Baby debacle.

Chris P
03-30-2010, 09:16 PM
Note that people looking to find themselves in something WILL do so. Proof: Lindsey Lohan and the Etrade Milkaholic Baby debacle.

Or how everyone thinks Carly Simon's song "You're so vain" is about them.