You live an interesting life full of ups and downs, with excitement lurking around every corner. With a life like yours, you must be bursting with enough ideas to fill a library! You start writing your ideas down and then you realize there is one problem—these stories are based on real people.
It’s an age-old problem. You want to write about what you know, but how do you write stories based on your life and include the people you know without anybody getting upset? Well, it’s not easy but it can be done. If you do decide to share some stories from your life, here are some tips to help you avoid some dirty looks and beatings from your friends (unless that’s just how your friends normally treat you; in that case you should probably get some new friends, they sound kind of mean).
1. Assume your friends aren’t stupid
Chances are changing a name like Jenny Perry to Penny Berry won’t go over too well. Your friends and family members are probably going to read your book, so don’t think just changing a name will do. The people in your life will recognize “their character” in your book right away. They will pick up on their characteristics, good or bad. Consider changing some details about the characters so people won’t recognize them and your relationships can remain intact.
2. Write a disclaimer
A safe approach to this problem is to write a disclaimer of sorts. This can be included in the introduction or on the acknowledgements page. You can state that the book is based on actual people, but the details and some character traits are fictional. A friend will be less likely to get upset since he will think the “temper problems” you mentioned are fictional.
3. Get permission before you write the book
The last thing you want to do is neglect to tell somebody they are in your book. Sometimes surprises are good, but “Surprise—now your mom can learn about what you really did during your college years,” isn’t a surprise most people would like. Even if you portray someone in a good light, that person still might not be comfortable being a character in your book; fame isn’t for everyone. Make sure to ask before you start writing so if the answer is no you won’t have to rewrite everything.
4. Leave some people out
I know this is against everything your mother told you, but sometimes it’s best just to exclude some people. If you feel someone would be upset by being included in your book then don’t put them in there. It’s not worth risking your friendship and it will give you a chance to let your creativity show by creating a new character.
Now you can get to writing! Of course if you still need help with all of this, Pypeline Editing is here for you!
And a discreet HAPPY BIRTHDAY to my friend/business partner/therapist, Krystal Pyatt who had a birthday on August 2nd!