Changing names

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lastdefense

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Hello :) I'm writing my first memoir and was wondering what the rules are on changing names. I'm assuming since these are real people the names should be changed - I no longer have contact with a good deal of the names mentioned in my story and certainly don't want to overstep any boundaries. Also some are working professionals.

Thanks for your time :D
 

Siri Kirpal

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Sat Nam! (Literally "Truth Name"--a Sikh greeting)

If what you're writing is positive, you don't need to change names. (That wonderful old teacher, for instance.) If the person is dead, you don't need to change names either.

If you do have contact with someone, you can get their permission to use their name.

If it's not positive and the person is alive, then yes, you're better off changing names and possibly other details.

Blessings,

Siri Kirpal
 

Leanna

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I agree, I'm writing a memoir and sometimes "positive" and "negative" are a fine line... like when I wanted to tell about my cousin from the city whom I terrorized by sticking crabs in her bed. Or a romp with the boy I had a crush on in High School. Quite possibly the individual might feel embarrassed to be included in the book under such circumstances.

So I wrote to them and sent them the manuscript, noting the pages on which the portion about them occurs, and asked their permission making it clear I would remove it if they objected. So far I've gotten an enthusiastic positive back from the former boyfriend (now happily married) but haven't heard from my cousin, unfortunate victim of my teenaged pranks.
 

trumpetology

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how far do we change the names? I'm using same first letter to keep track of them for the time being, but should I try to go further away?
 

Siri Kirpal

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Sat Nam! (Literally "Truth Name"--a Sikh greeting)

I think the answer depends on how necessary it is to disguise a person. If what you're writing could endanger a person's life (I have that situation in my ms), you either leave the story out or fudge every detail you can without damaging the story. You can combine several people into one person too, if that suits your needs.

If it's just a case of mild embarrassment, and nobody is likely to figure out who the person is anyway, just the name change will do.

That's what I've been told anyway.

Blessings,

Siri Kirpal
 

dryland

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I'm working on a memoir too, and my strategy so far is to keep the all the names real in my manuscript, but when sending parts out for feedback I do a search and replace and put in all my fabulous false names. It works for me because I feel more connected to the truth (whatever that may be) when using real names, but I don't want to have those names out on the interwebs getting me into trouble.

I figure if it ever gets to publication stage my editor or publisher will guide my final decision.
 

Ruth2

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Depends on the book, your relationship to the people and what they want.

I'm using real names but I'm making sure it's okay with the people. I'll ask, and if they'd rather not have their names in it, I'll go with first names. Since the folks named are authors and performers I doubt it's a problem but I'm still asking. They know about the book anyway so it won't be a surprise.

If it's in any way libelous, change the name.
 

trumpetology

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I'm working on a memoir too, and my strategy so far is to keep the all the names real in my manuscript, but when sending parts out for feedback I do a search and replace and put in all my fabulous false names. It works for me because I feel more connected to the truth (whatever that may be) when using real names, but I don't want to have those names out on the interwebs getting me into trouble.

I figure if it ever gets to publication stage my editor or publisher will guide my final decision.

I agree. Much easier to write the story if I keep the names in the rough draft
 

Elizabeth George's book Write Away