View Full Version : Can someone tell me....

03-29-2006, 11:44 PM
I just finished a conversation, or rather a disagreement with a good friend concerning fiction and non-fiction romance novels.

She feels if she gets the idea from real life experiences and somehow incorporated them into a manuscript, it should be labeled non-fiction, regardless of the fact that situations, names and events are changed to fit the story.

I donít agree because, I feel all writers in one way or another reflect real life experiences into some of their work as a foundation to create a story with twists and turns as well as endings they would want. I know I have.:Shrug: Could I be wrong?

Can someone please tell me, would it be non-fiction romance or fiction romance.

03-29-2006, 11:52 PM
If situations, names and events are changed how can it be non-fiction, which in effect is 'reality' or 'true'?

Cathy C
03-30-2006, 01:13 AM
The word "novel" is, by definition, fiction. Webster's defines the word as "an invented prose narrative that is usu. long and complex." You cannot have a non-fiction novel. It would be a memoir. Even if the story is based in fact, as soon as you put your own spin on the story, it becomes fiction and, hence, a novel.

Kasey Mackenzie
04-06-2006, 09:59 PM
Non-fiction is, by definition, 100% true. Now, you can change names to protect the innocent (as has been done from time to time), and a person writing a memoir may not remember _exactly_ the way something happened, but at its core everything in the book happened as close to the way they remember as possible. It is true. Fiction on the other hand isn't. It may be based on true events but once you start changing characters and adding in plot elements that never occur it's fiction plain and simple.

So you're right. =)

Cathy C
04-06-2006, 11:46 PM
Josie, I don't want to hijack this thread. I'll split the topic and give you your own thread (http://www.absolutewrite.com/forums/showthread.php?t=30601) to discuss it. :)

04-13-2006, 07:48 AM
for the sake of argument, say the name was changed, her blue dress changed to a low-cut red number, and instead of the prom it was a sleazy bar? then you tart up the dialogue and throw in some tantalizing bits and pieces. does the fact that the girl then gets raped in a truck as opposed to a camaro really make it fiction? were your friend the writer and this experience yours that she's writing about, would you consider it 'fiction'? or would you likely say, 'how *dare* you write about this!' granted, there may be little or no malice of forethought, but if the core experience remains the same but the dressing is a bit twisted around, doesn't that make it theft nonetheless? i mean, had that experience not happened, would you still have thought about writing it? if you have to say 'based on true events,' how is that anything other than theft at worst or cathartic at best just because you've made it more sellable? isn't that a pretty horrible notion, to take someone else's horrible experience and fling it against the wall until it sticks so you can personally make a profit from it? all webster's definitions aside, is that more the essense of your question?

04-13-2006, 03:40 PM
If you are writing an original scene with original characters---even if it was inspired by actual events----it is fiction. ALL fiction writers draw from real life in their stories, period. It's the little changes that make an anecdote into a story. You are within your rights to write whatever story you want, and you don't have to justify that to anyone. Just be sure the story overall is original and that you don't claim it to be true. (i.e., don't pull a James Frey)

04-13-2006, 06:07 PM
again, playing devil's advocate here....

so, you can take something i said in confidence, slap a new coat of paint on it, and claim you've got the right to print that? nah, i don't think that works on a moral level, nor do i suspect that would be okay with most people when it comes to deeply personal things. in its extreme, you're advocating the practice of taking someone's diary and 'fictionalizing' it without their permission? i don't think we're talking about going camping so you can use those experiences to add detail to a story. that surface stuff is great, but that's not being creative nor original as much as being a fancy reporter, eh? the kind of shoes someone wore really is nothing compared to the situation you're stealing from, and when it's not your own personal situation, maybe it's a good idea to consider how some spin will affect the person it happened to. and let's be honest, there's often a fine line between stealing and being 'inspired by.'

there was someone who once said fiction is nothing more than entertaining lies. okay, i can agree with that on the surface of things. the operative word here is 'lies.' if we put semantics in a shoebox where it belongs, if your story has more truth than lies, what have you got? you might have to bracket the word 'original' in quotes.

just because someone calls themself a writer doesn't mean, imo, they've got no responsibilities and will never have to justify what they write to someone. i just spent a month being banned as evidence to counter that argument. if someone takes bill clinton's autobiography and puts it in a fantasy setting, adding some more entertainment value as the opportunity presents, where does the originality reside? it's certainly not your life or experiences, nor is it really even your concept. the theft may not be blatant to most people, but there's certainly little originality involved, either. in this case, the real fiction is calling yourself a creative writer.

04-13-2006, 07:17 PM
Preyer, I think you are full of malarkey. What you are proposing is that writers never base anything they write on ANY experiences they've ever had, and if that really were required for anything to be fiction, then no fiction would ever be written. Sounds to me like you're just bitter that you can't come up with anything original yourself, and you therefore decree that no one else can, either.

Writers "steal" ideas all the time. And it really isn't "stealing", anyway. It's applying a creative, compelling spin on something that people can relate to their own lives----in a a nutshell, that's what any great writer does.

04-14-2006, 05:23 AM
not in any spirit of debate i've tried to make, you've called me full of malarkey and uncreative. nice. you're so close to being vitriolic, go on, do it, pull that trigger. let's see who's got the better aim. i mean, if you want to start name-calling, just let me know and you'll see how creative i can be. that's not a challenge or a dare, mind, that's just one devilishly good-looking guy sitting in a comfortable chair defending himself.

however, IF you're willing to conduct the debate further, here goes....

i think you're missing my point, so i should have been clearer, and in retrospect i knew i wanted to add somethings but haven't had a chance to do it until now. i think writers have every right to use whatever happens to them personally if they're involved. but....

i have a friend who's a paranoid schizophrenic. i've oberved him and listened to him, and, i admit, the temptation to use him and his stories, even his antics and misadventures, for a character is strong. however, without his permission, i think turning all of that into 'fiction' for my profit and your entertainment is, well, just plain wrong. i'm not researching common symptoms out of a textbook or listening to third party anecdotes, this is someone i know, a good friend. and, yes, i very much believe he'd take offense to having his problems and traumas spewed forth. i know i would. my point here is i'm certain most people would.

i think it boils down to balancing what you feel you've got a right to write and how much of an invasion of somebody's privacy you're infringing upon. i'm not prattling on about snippets of a conversation or even some middling event, i'm talking about essentially plagiarizing someone's secrets and pretending it's creative by changing a few details. to me, that's the opposite of creative. imo, if that's the width and breadth of one's 'creativity,' they're sorely lacking in imagination.

have i used personal experiences before? of course. i strongly note they were *personal* experiences which i've manipulated for your enjoyment. i think that's closer to the original sentiment, or at least along the same lines. the problem can lie in the fact that once a writer runs out of personal experiences, they might rely on other's, extracting embarassing or traumatic stories because they've exhausted their own and needs new fodder to feed the hungry masses.

a friend of mine came in my store tonight. she was bummed because a woman in her church killed herself tonight. oh, there's lots more to the story... but nobody'll ever hear it, nor will i resort to changing a few details here and there... and i'll sleep like a baby tonight knowing that i've not stolen from anyone's pain so i can keep some reader turning the next page in some lame fantasy story.

i'm trying to establish some extremes and draw those extremes in a bit to find out where any boundaries are in a practical sense. apparently i'm failing miserably.

Cathy C
04-14-2006, 05:58 AM
First, I think it's important to remember that we're discussing concepts here. I won't tolerate name calling in this forum, so let's ease down from that ledge. There's a fine distinction to using character traits in the creation of fictional people, as opposed to the actual elements of a PERSON. Most fictional characters are a jumble of elements that are known to the author. It's an "if/then" concept. If you have a compulsive person, s/he probably has a) a tidy house, b) a neat desk, c) washes the car, without fail, every Saturday, etc., etc. If an author happens to KNOW a compulsive person, then they might be able to expand on the character by adding details such as plastic slip covers on the furniture, or being anal about people bringing food into the car.

What's NOT cool (and is, in fact, bordering on illegal) is to transmit into fictional form ACTUAL events, or join every single detail of a person into the character, to the point that third parties will recognize "Bob Smith" as John Jones, who lives down the block from the author. But if you happen to know THREE paranoid people, and they happen to share similar manifestations of that disorder, then sure--use away. It then becomes a shared trait of the ILLNESS, rather than a trait particular to one person.

for the sake of argument, say the name was changed, her blue dress changed to a low-cut red number, and instead of the prom it was a sleazy bar? then you tart up the dialogue and throw in some tantalizing bits and pieces. does the fact that the girl then gets raped in a truck as opposed to a camaro really make it fiction?

Yes. That's EXACTLY what makes it fiction. Sure, someone was raped. You know it. You know HER. But you have't disparaged her in any way. You've created a similar situation because it's a powerful experience that has happened (sadly) to MANY women, and can be used to move, or teach or wrench guts. You can have your character react differently. Perhaps instead of crawling into a bottle for a year, your heroine fights back. She goes to police academy and later catches the same rapist before he can do the same to another girl. The story becomes something that is bigger than the original event. It's putty and can just as easily become an expensive vase as a melted lump.

Writers take real life and twist it on its ear. It's what we do.

Now, feel free to respond, but play nice, people. :)

04-14-2006, 05:01 PM
That's the point I'm trying to make as well, Cathy. Writers draw on real-life experiences as well as the people they know personally to create original stories. Every piece of fiction I've ever written was inspired from my own experiences and/or other peoples' personalities and experiences in real life.

Note I say "inspired by", not "based on." In turn, every piece of fiction I've ever written is completely made-up, with original characters and situations. But that doesn't mean I haven't drawn from real life in creating those characters and situations. I have, and always will. Because again, that's what real writers do.

I feel sorry for preyer in that he/she feels unable to draw inspiration from real life in any way, shape, or form. He/she is setting up a potentially paralyzing set of parameters for writing anything---fiction or otherwise. It sounds to me like some kind of emotional block that must be broken through.

My two cents.

04-14-2006, 06:31 PM
for starters, i'm a guy. secondly, didn't cathy just tell you play nice? do you always come off this lovable (sarcasm alert!)? did you miss the part where i said 'for the sake of argument' *then* miss the part where i said i was playing devil's advocate? you've made some pretty big leaps of logic and arrived at a conclusion which doesn't even land in the right hemisphere.

i agree, cathy, if it's a shared trait between some people you know, sure, have at it. you're likely to find those during research, though, eh? being writers i think we're natural observers and naturally observe people. that's what we should do, imo, and there's no issue with that. however, again like cathy so eloquently put it, you use a specific person's personality and/or events that makes them recognizable *as* that specific person, that's where i draw the line. those who know me on this board know i don't draw many lines when it comes to writing, but i refuse to steal my friends, say, experiences with the law because i know how much it affected him on a personal level. i could ask, and maybe i'll do that, but to take it upon myself to use whatever i feel like and claim i've got the right is, well, morally wrong in my book. i guess that's why people trust me, they know i'm not going to abuse them that way. it's about keeping secrets, and if i can make my own off-base counter that's probably got little to no validity, it sounds to me as if you, saka, are likely a gossip who people are reluctant to confide in. me, on the other hand, have been called 'my psychiatrist' by a lot of folk because i listen to their problems in an understanding or at least sympathetic way. i do this because i'm a nice guy, not because i'm fishing for material because i'm too lazy or unimaginative to come up with stuff on my own.

do i steal from personal experience? of course. since it's personal experience, i've got that right. by the same token, if i've a strong character and a great story, i need to borrow from my own experiences that much less because, for me, those two things virtually express themselves. my recent wip was an adventure fantasy set in a huge cemetary, the mc placed there to keep the dead inside. okay, i've been in a cemetary at night, but not so much experience with the undead. it's a fictional character based on no one. he has a lot of problems with his wife, but, again, that's not based or even inspired by anyone's true life events. sure, i grant you that in the course of your writing you'll write something you think is fictional but has happened to *someone*, but i'm not talking about definitions, legalities, semantics and forethought in that case, rather coincidence.

saka, you've said what real writers, even great writers, do. i guess you're a far better writing than i. i'll cede there's a difference between 'inspired by' and 'based on'... to a certain degree, though i think they're in the same realm, different from completely creative, or to the best of your knowledge completely creative. i completely don't buy into the notion that you *must* consciously borrow bits and pieces from real life to make a character any good. that's ridiculous, imo.

the rape scenario i mentioned is a poor example and i didn't like it after i posted it. i knew it would be scrapped, i was just waiting for someone to do it, lol. that situation, sad to say, is almost generic. so i'll pose another, more specific, event, say having a miscarriage in your bathtub and your husband disposing of the corpse. pretty specific there if you use that core experience as told to you by your friend. if it's a guy sharing some weird sexual adventure with a one night stand and it's all done in a good-natured way, he may not care if you use that for a fun bit in your story. he may even get a kick out of it. us guys tend to be 'helpful' that way. this entire post is imo about breaching guarded elements of another person you actually know. it's not about surface things easily (or it should be easy) made up like changing a trash can liner three times a day.

i'll even cede that cathy is right on a definition stand, but again i don't think that's necessarily core to original discussion. it certainly has to be mentioned, i agree, but i think it's really more about the moral and ethical aspect than it is what you can get away with and not invite lawsuits. i'm not comfortable using other people's saying in a story unless i tell them, 'i'm going to steal that for a story.' that's just me. for example, a guy i know likes the phrase 'gum-bumpin'', which i'll use for a character and when that character gets frustered i'll have him shriek, 'quit your bum-gumpin'!'

character profiles are no secret. secret are secrets, though, and i think it behooves a writer's soul to respect their own friends enough to at least ask if their experiences can be modified for a story. truly, that's what this is about, modifications to better suit a story, not about creativity. i'm not saying writers don't, obviously they do, or even that they shouldn't if they've got permission, but let's not confuse creativity with modifications. that is, don't add a fifth wheel to a car and call it a new invention. my argument is that there's some gray area there.

i otherwise agree with you, cathy. there are some things a writer can do that's not cool, and like you said bordering on illegal. if it's an actual event that a friend has experienced that you otherwise would never have thought of (i.e. not being creative) on your own or as a result of research, i have a hard time modifying details and calling myself genius. saka, maybe you don't have this affliction of morals, and really more power to you, but i think i'll stick to what i write, awful as that may be, and not use the traumas of my friends as a form of research without their authorization.

personally, i think that's something not just a writer should think about, but something to ponder if you just simply want to be a decent human being.

am i limiting my writing by setting up such personal ethical parametres? not at all. there's no shortage of character traits, personalities or traumatic events to be made up, so i feel no particular pressure to 'make it real.' the story and characters dictates that for the most part.

then again, some people consider george lucas a creative genius. i think he's just a talented thief.

04-14-2006, 07:37 PM
Preyer, I didn't engage in any name calling and was perfectly polite in my observations. I think I will refrain from any further interactions with your posts. From the tone of your rants, I guess I can see why you've been banned from this board in the past.

Best of luck to you in your writing endeavors.

Cathy C
04-14-2006, 08:52 PM
Okay, let me make this very clear -- with examples:

the real fiction is calling yourself a creative writer Purportedly, this is generalized, but the whole post speaks directly to the previous post by Saka. It's a slam.

Preyer, I think you are full of malarkey. This is not name calling, but could be considered "inciting."

Sounds to me like you're just bitter that you can't come up with anything original yourself This is name calling.

i'll sleep like a baby tonight knowing that i've not stolen from anyone's pain so i can keep some reader turning the next page in some lame fantasy story. This is inciting. It implies that anyone who DOES use details from real life is less worthy of respect.

It sounds to me like some kind of emotional block that must be broken through. This is supposition and inciting.

do you always come off this lovable Sarcastic and inciting.

i guess you're a far better writing than i. Sarcastic and inciting.

saka, maybe you don't have this affliction of morals This is name calling.

None of these follow our prime directive here at AW, which is "respect your fellow writer." We don't get to presuppose, or judge another writer's choices in writing. So, now that we're clear on MY definitions -- let's not do this anymore. Thanks, Saka, for stepping back from this. Hopefully we can continue this discussion in a reasonable fashion.

Now, each writer has an OPINION as to what "crosses the line," morally, ethically and etc. My own views might not meld with others--I have no problem at all taking events right out of the news to use in a book. It's what I DO with them that turns it into fiction. The best fiction is that which is believable. Nothing is as believable as reality. But it's a question each of us has to face and deal with.

Now, any other OPINIONS?

04-16-2006, 04:19 AM
'the real fiction is calling yourself a creative writer' ~ yep, it was a generalization, i didn't mean to target saka out specifically. sorry about that misunderstanding.

like i said, i think it's something every writer needs to consider at some point. and it's got to do with legalities and definitions, but also with the writer's personal boundaries. clearly, i draw the line at some point. clearly, some writers have different threshholds of where they draw 'inspiration' from. i don't feel 'inspiration' is synonomous with 'creativity' or 'inventiveness.'

to me, if you take an 'inspiration' and alter it to the point of being satisfied with calling it 'creative,' would there not be a quantifiable percentage or ratio of real life and alterations present? again, that would be a personal choice, or am i off my rocker on this point?

04-16-2006, 04:21 AM
I use real life events all the time, and even if i made it up I am sure it happened to someone, somewhere. But the total mosiac is still a novel.

04-16-2006, 04:42 AM
oh, no doubt, it probably has happened to someone, somewhere. but that's why there're disclaimers about being 'purely coincidental.'

from nora roberts' silhouette publication of 'the stanislaski brothers,' it says, verbatim, "All characters in this book have no existence outside the imagination of the author and have no relation whatsoever to anyone bearing the same name or names. They are not even distantly inspired by any individual known or unknown to the author, and all incidents are pure invention."

from judith o'brien's 'once upon a rose,' pocket books, it says, verbatim, "This book is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places and incidents are products of the author's imagination or are used ficticiously. Any resemblance to actual events or locales or persons, living or dead, is entirely coincidental."

so, when you're 'inspired' by a real life event, say as told to you by your best friend, that's an actual event. you can't honestly claim the disclaimers are 100% true, can you? and while i was pulling these disclaimers out, i came across one of kat martin's books with no disclaimer at all, so it would appear that you don't absolutely *have* to have that disclaimer, which, in a weird way, keeps her honest ('perfect sin,' st. martin's paperbacks). so, if you're inspired by real life episodes, shouldn't you tell your editor not to put a disclaimer in there, i mean, if you were being completely honest about it? or is nora roberts' disclaimers a bunch of bunk and, as suggested by saka, not a great writer because she doesn't (or at least the disclaimer says she didn't for this book) use real life events inasfar as she knew?

04-16-2006, 04:53 AM
oh, btw, how can someone take a parting shot ('i guess i can see why you've been banned from this board in the past') and then get *praised* for 'stepping back'? lol. i really don't mean to be contentious here, i just missed the logic on that. :)

Cathy C
04-16-2006, 04:57 AM
or is nora roberts' disclaimers a bunch of bunk and, as suggested by saka, not a great writer because she doesn't (or at least the disclaimer says she didn't for this book) use real life events inasfar as she knew?

Inciting again, preyer. Don't bait or I'll close the thread.

But, once again -- each writer has to make their own decision as to what they want to take from real life. Nora may or may not take from real life. There's no way to judge whether SHE had any say in the disclaimer. Stuff at the front of the book is very seldom inserted with the knowledge or consent of the author. Most likely, though, in Nora's case, she did have a say, and probably was frustrated by the number of people claiming to be the "basis" of a book. The bigger you get in the writing world, the more flakes crawl out of the woodwork. Hence, the more you have to "disclaim" things.

Cathy C
04-16-2006, 05:00 AM
oh, btw, how can someone take a parting shot ('i guess i can see why you've been banned from this board in the past') and then get *praised* for 'stepping back'? lol. i really don't mean to be contentious here, i just missed the logic on that. :)

Fine. I missed an instance in my "examples" post. But that doesn't mean you get to take a shot back.

04-16-2006, 05:00 AM
if someone takes bill clinton's autobiography and puts it in a fantasy setting, adding some more entertainment value as the opportunity presents, where does the originality reside? it's certainly not your life or experiences, .

Well... there is "primary Colors" which ,for better or worse, the writer got away with just by claiming it was fiction.

04-16-2006, 05:44 AM
is 'primary colors' fiction by your standards, vein? i've not seen the movie or read the book, but from what i've heard it sounds like a great lawsuit to me, though that would require the grieved party admit to certain events and i'm guessing that would be political suicide?

sorry, cathy, i didn't mean to incite anyone. all i meant to do was give credit to the author of the idea. my understanding of that idea was that great authors use real life examples all the time and that's partially what makes them great. did i misread that? then i tried to show the possibility that not all authors do that, or at least legally claim not to via a rather detailed disclaimer. i hoped i was in the boundaries of debate and not trying to use her words to insult her as much as debate a point.

i was just kinda teasin' ya on the other thing. :) as far as i'm concerned, anyone interested on where and how this mess went wrong can read the thread and come to their own conclusions. but i don't get to take a shot back?! that's not fair! attica! attica! attica! again, just teasin'. i'm willing to invite her back into this discussion as long as we can forget the previous nastiness.

true, the more popular and ostensibly rich you become, that's akin to an open invitation for the nuts to fall from the tree and park it in your front yard. it shouldn't be, but it is. it's why george lucas and tom cruise are such kooks, because they'd likely be mobbed if they went shopping for tuna. i almost feel sorry for them.

anyhoo, you mention the thing about having to 'disclaim' more things, and that's why i thought it was so strange that kat martin's book had no disclaimers at all. i thought that would be an open invitation in itself, kat martin being no slouch in the genre, eh?

04-16-2006, 05:47 AM
btw, i scratched down some stuff i thought i'd run by 'share your work,' but the 'vista' password isn't working for me. i'm pretty sure my cookies are enabled. help?

04-16-2006, 06:04 PM
"Primary Colors" is satire/parody, which is fully protected under the First Amendment. Even if Pres. Clinton had wanted to sue the author, he would have had a very difficult time because the legal precedents upholding the absolute copyright/free expression right of satire/parody are HUGE. (Being lawyers, the Clintons probably knew that). ALL fiction is pretty much protected this way, as well---but satire/parody especially, because of all the lawsuits that arise (and are all pretty much defeated) in response to it.

The authors who put these disclaimers on their fiction are probably doing so on the advice of their attorneys and not because their fiction is "not inspired by anyone, living or dead." When you are mega-rich and mega-famous like Nora or some of the others, you have to take steps to protect yourself from frivolous lawsuits by people who want to get their claws into your money. Again, there is likely no chance from a legal standpoint that any of those lawsuits could have stood up in court, but defending yourself against them (especially when you might get 50 or more lobbed against you a year, like Nora has) can get expensive.

In all likelihood, Nora, like all writers, draws from real life to some extent, but she puts that disclaimer on her books to reduce her chances of being sued in frivolous suits by kooks who want a share of her money. (She also probably would much rather spend her time writing books than dealing with lawyers, so she does this as added protection.) However, under U.S. law, there is no real reason for her to do it----as a fiction author, she is already protected by the First Amendment and 200+ years of case law protecting authors.

Does that make sense, preyer? Of course you should do what you're most comfortable with, but in the United States, the legal precedents protecting fiction writers are very strong. As long as you assert that your work is fiction, it is virtually unassailable in court. The same is true in most other industrialized democracies, as the recent (failed) lawsuit against Dan Brown in the U.K. illustrates.

Now if you make something up and call it "true", that's another matter entirely.

04-16-2006, 11:32 PM
i didn't know if 'primary colors' was a parody or not. in that case, yep, it's protected.

i was actually surprised that martin's book didn't contain a disclaimer. i thought *all* books had them where appropriate. even comic books have disclaimers, or at least used to and i don't know why, especially nowadaze, that would have changed.

what i found interesting about roberts' disclaimer is it seems particularly in-depth as opposed to the more generic one we can practically recite from rote. it was as if she wrote it herself or the publisher tailor-made especially for her. either way, or neither way i guess applies, too, it doesn't seem like the standard fare kind of disclaimer, though i admit i've hardly searched the world over investigating the matter. if nora is indeed battling lawsuit after lawsuit, i would imagine that it's very likely her disclaimer met with her approval. if that's the case, then what she's saying personally to the world (and this is just speculation on my part) is *no* character is unoriginal to her as far as she knows and *no* event has been inspired, by the way we're using it in this discussion, by real life as far as she knows. in this specific disclaimer, it's going pretty much out of its way to make clear every character and event is purely imagined and not even 'distantly' related to any character and/or event she knows about.

does she secretly rely on real life characters and/or events then? not according to her disclaimer. and she's written a lot of books, so either she's had a fairly eventful life chock-full of colourful characters and still uses them as sources of inspiration, or she's just got one helluva imagination. i prefer to think the latter is true and that just because *i* still have to rely on real people and events that that doesn't necessarily mean someone else *has* to, also. that would be me saying that just because i can't do it, no one else can, no? lol.

04-17-2006, 01:07 AM
Again, it is not necessary under US law for any fiction author to have a disclaimer of any kind about the fictional source of their material. Calling it "fiction" is more than enough. Anyone who does do a diosclaimer only does so for added protection against frivolous suits. Most of us lesser-known writers have absolutely no reason to do even that, because we aren't millionaires whom would be the target of lawsuit "fishermen", who come up with harebrained schemes to go after writers (and other people) with deep pockets.

Nora Roberts does indeed have a vivid imagination. But like any novelist, she also does lots of research on her books, especially when she sets them in a specific locale and/or has heroes/heroines with certain kinds of jobs in order for the books to seem as realistic and accurate as they are. How much Nora Roberts draws from real life and/or persons in her books, however, is something only Nora herself knows----and I'm sure after some of the legal hassles she's been through, she isn't going to share that information with anyone, except maybe her editor.

04-17-2006, 07:09 AM
no, it's not a law, just makes good sense, though, eh? i'm not sure if those disclaimers have much legal weight (like you said, calling it fiction is itself its own defense), though the standard operational procedure is to have one even if it just amounts to tradition.

i used to work at a place called malibu grand prix, one of those places where you could race mini-grand prix race cars on a track. we made people sign waivers of responsibility saying that if that person was injured they couldn't sue the company. that waiver had absolutely no legal basis whatsoever, it was just a scare tactic to deter someone with some minour injury not to sue for eighty-seven gazillion pesos. is that what disclaimers essentially are, scare tactics?