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Using real people in a story?

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Offline alexroddie Reading The Terror by Dan Simmons
13 Feb 2014, 08:18 PM | Post: #11

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RE: Using real people in a story?

I think it can be done, but you have to tread carefully. In my books I regularly feature historical characters - generally people who died well over a hundred years ago. Even then I have encountered pitfalls, such as the occasion when living relatives (one of whom is a bigwig in the House of Lords) threatened all kinds of woe unless I changed names (which I did).

In my opinion if you stick to factual representations of what a person is known to have done, you can't go far wrong. The moment you start portraying someone in a negative light there can be consequences. Of course, whether you can actually be sued is another matter.
Offline emilynemchick Reading
13 Feb 2014, 08:19 PM | Post: #12


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RE: Using real people in a story?

Thanks for all the advice! The figure in question is only mentioned in passing in one line, so it doesn't really impact the story at all. It seems to be he'd be best off just to omit the specifics.
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Offline Tim_A Reading strictly murder by Lynda Wilcox
13 Feb 2014, 08:56 PM | Post: #13

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RE: Using real people in a story?

Just say "the president" (or whatever) - people won't notice the lack of a name.
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Offline Jennie Lee Reading Course notes for Pilates Teacher Training
13 Feb 2014, 11:42 PM | Post: #14

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RE: Using real people in a story?

If it's just one line, it should be possible to imply in a way that the reader will infer as your author friend intends.  If I were to use real names in my work, I'd be more inclined to make Mother Teresa better than she was rather than <enter tyrant's name here> worse than he was - mainly 'cos I'd be too chicken.
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Offline LindaGruchy Reading The Chandelier Ballroom by Elizabeth Lord
14 Feb 2014, 06:38 AM | Post: #15

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RE: Using real people in a story?

I would tread very carefully even if the name is "wrong" if it's obvious whom the author means - they could still sue for libel.

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