View Full Version : how much artistic license is allowed...

08-17-2004, 07:59 PM
to call you're "true story" a 'true story'?
If you're changing the names to protect the innocent, or adding experiences or things that didn't actually happen, can you still call it a true story or is it a novel based on a true story?
My cousin thinks my roller coaster life would make a great book....but I just don't want to go there. :rolleyes Mainly because....everyone is still alive...and too many people would be hurt.

Anyway....just wondering.

aka eraser
08-18-2004, 12:09 AM
I think you're right that using the words based on a true story gives you wiggle room in the fictionalizing department.

Together with your publisher you might have to amend the standard "this is a work of fiction..none of the.." disclaimer.

But we all draw on our experiences in writing. If you've done enough to disguise recognizable people and fudge dates, locations and circumstances, then for all intents and purposes it is a work of fiction. It could be that by labeling it with that "based on" phrase folks who know you will look that much harder for characters or situations that are recognizable to them.

I just muddied the water didn't I? :huh

09-24-2004, 09:18 PM
A non-fiction book (which biographies or memoirs are) should be true, to be the best of the author's knowlege.

If you write anything that is made-up and you know it's made up, it is fiction -- it could be semi-biographical fiction or a story based on a true story, but it's fiction.

Changing the names or the time/place of events to protect the innocent is okay, as long as everything else is true, including the actions, the events, and the dialogue.

Tish Davidson
09-29-2004, 03:13 AM
I have also seen "Inspired by a true story" which gives you even more wiggle room than "based on."

10-30-2004, 09:55 AM
yah but a lot of memoir is actually creative non fiction, which gives the author th e chance to embellish a little.

07-04-2005, 04:27 AM
yah but a lot of memoir is actually creative non fiction, which gives the author th e chance to embellish a little.

You can't tell fibs, even in cretive nonfiction. "Nonfiction" means true. If you want to lie, you write a novel. "Based on a true story" means "We got the basic idea from a true story, but we fictionalized it to make it more exciting."

You can change names to protect the innocent, but you can't make up events. That's just lying in nonfiction. If you want to make things up, you write a novel.