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Writing a book. rules

For some reason i thought if you write a book you have to have permission to use real names by the person you are writing about it. Isn't that correct?

wasn't really sure which category on this one?

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Asked by Sillylins at 3:42 PM on Jun. 4, 2013 in Hobbies & Crafts

Level 27 (31,211 Credits)
Answers (6)
  • Defamation

    No one likes to have nasty things said about them in print. Even if your ex-husband is the biggest jerk on the planet, writing a vicious tell-all about his drinking, gambling, skirt-chasing and cheating on taxes will likely get you a visit from his lawyers. Yes, you told the truth, but the courts will heavily scrutinize what your real motives were for doing so. Nor can you liberally trash public figures just because their lives seem to be an open book. Even dead people have rights--as well as live descendants and heirs--if you paint them in a slanderous light just because you think they can't get back at you. If in doubt about what you can and can't do, always consult with an attorney.

    Read more: Legalities of Writing a Book | eHow

    Answer by Dardenella at 3:51 PM on Jun. 4, 2013

  • It depends on who it is and what you're saying. For example, I have a book I'm working on in which one of my characters is a radio DJ. I can use the names of real musicians in terms of saying "She played Jason Aldean's latest song" or "She'd met Bon Jovi backstage in Ireland". But I can't, for example, use my best friend's full name and turn her into a prostitute. I also couldn't write, say, my biography and tell stories about her and I doing something really stupid without getting her okay first.

    I also, for example, can't turn Brad Pitt into an abusive husband toward Angelina Jolie. Basically, you can use public figures without permission, but only if it's in passing (as I showed above or as a reference to a character's favorite star, singer, etc.), and doesn't refer to them negatively (although you could use Hugh Grant's getting busted with a hooker, since it's public fact).

    Answer by wendythewriter at 3:55 PM on Jun. 4, 2013

  • Oh, and as a general rule, you shouldn't use names of people you actually now, even fictionally. I don't even play with taking this person's first name and that person's last name. I make up entirely different names. If someone suspects you've based a character on them (and even using their name can be enough), they can sue and if they convince a judge that you've based the character on them and made them look bad, you're screwed.

    Answer by wendythewriter at 3:57 PM on Jun. 4, 2013

  • If you want to write about someone you know, it's really best to change the name. Writing is sort of like a bird building a nest, using a bit from here and a bit from there of your life experiences. I've written a novel that I'm trying to find a publisher for, and there are little snips of people I know in it, but I didn't make a character based on a real person. Real people usually aren't interesting enough, that or they're so damn interesting as to not be believed. But yu can take traits from your friends and family and use them to make your characters more interesting and real.

    Answer by Ballad at 3:58 PM on Jun. 4, 2013

  • Oh and besides, naming your characters is one of the fun things you get to do. Don't use real names; you get to pick anything you want, like when you name your kids. A lot of symbolic eaning can go into the name you choose for a character, adding depth even if most people don't notice.

    Answer by Ballad at 4:09 PM on Jun. 4, 2013

  • If you are writing a biography at that person's request, you can only include what they agree to have in the book. Their permission to use names is only their permission and not for examply their sister's. You would have to have the sister's written permission to use her in the book.

    Answer by Dardenella at 4:11 PM on Jun. 4, 2013

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