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DeafWriter
08-20-2004, 06:50 AM
I am writing a memoir that involves ritual abuse as well as severe self-harm (including permanently disabling myself). I do not want to use anyone's real names and real locations (except my own) for obvious reasons.

If I give the people in my memoir pseudonyms and find locations that would match the basic population and area, I am still left with two questions:

1. If I want to talk about a psychiatric hospitalization (which there are many) and I'm using a location other than the real one (for other people's privacy sake), should I use the name of a real hospital in that location (even though it's not the one I was truthfully at)? Do I make up the name of a hospital? Same thing with theatres (professional acting). How does that work?

2. If I change everyone's name and location, but the book is still written by me, won't people who know me (even if just casually, like at church) be able to figure out who the real people are? How do I get past legal ramifications.

I believe my story should be told. I just am not sure how to go about it without risking a lawsuit. Can someone help me?:shrug

Michele

www.fragmentedmind.healthyplace2.com (http://www.fragmentedmind.healthyplace2.com)

www.pdjamboree.healthyplace2.com (http://www.pdjamboree.healthyplace2.com)

mammamaia
08-21-2004, 12:22 AM
1. If I want to talk about a psychiatric hospitalization (which there are many) and I'm using a location other than the real one (for other people's privacy sake), should I use the name of a real hospital in that location (even though it's not the one I was truthfully at)? Do I make up the name of a hospital? Same thing with theatres (professional acting). How does that work?

...you shouldn't use the name of a real hospital that doesn't figure in the real events... some will assume it did and you could be sued if anything untoward is said to have taken place there... if you're not going to use real names and real places, you need to fictionalize everything, including hospitals and other locations/entities... doing so, however, will weaken the impact your real-life story might have, as fiction won't be taken that seriously...


2. If I change everyone's name and location, but the book is still written by me, won't people who know me (even if just casually, like at church) be able to figure out who the real people are? How do I get past legal ramifications.

...of course they will... chances are some will, even if you use all fake names and locations, as well as a nom de plume... which is why anyone contemplating writing an expose or auto bio that will reveal wrongdoing, should consult a good literary attorney before even beginning to write anything... you need to know how to go about writing your story without creating a legal nightmare...

I believe my story should be told. I just am not sure how to go about it without risking a lawsuit. Can someone help me?

...if you email me, with some details about your story, i can help set you on the best path... i've worked with many writers who had horror stories to tell that truly needed to be told...

...but, as i said above, you will still need to consult a good lawyer who specializes in this area...

love and hugs, maia
maia3maia@hotmail.com (maia3maia@hotmail.com)

Fictionalizer
03-05-2005, 04:21 PM
I am writing a memoir that involves ritual abuse as well as severe self-harm (including permanently disabling myself). I do not want to use anyone's real names and real locations (except my own) for obvious reasons.

I believe my story should be told. I just am not sure how to go about it without risking a lawsuit. Can someone help me?:shrug

Michele

Hello Michele,
I am writing a similar story. I've decided to go the fiction way, called Fictionalization, thus my name on this board. This way there is no threat of lawsuit from anyone.

I've read enough information on the legal aspects of writing fiction based on fact to know that my characters cannot be even remotely like the original perpetrators, places, crimes, etc. They must be different enough that someone would NOT identify themselves in my book.

My book will state something like: The names, places and crimes have been changed and do not bear any resemble to them to protect the innocent and the guilty.

Here is the definition of Fictionalization:
n 1: a literary work based partly or wholly on fact but written as if it were fiction [syn: fictionalisation] 2: writing in a fictional form [syn: fabrication, fictionalisation]

Do a search on the web under the subject:
Legalities: Writing True Crime

I found one article written by a non-fiction writer, novelist, writing teacher and faculty member of the Wordwright critique service.

Here is the web site:
http://www.writeronline.us/legalities/kaa8.htm