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Have you ever written a short story/novel and found out when you were close to publishing, that some characters in your book sounded too much like real people in your life, though you didn't intend that to happen? What do you do? Go back and make extreme changes to the manuscript or just hope they'll not think you were writing about them and just publish?🤔

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I don't personally have this problem, but I'm a smart alec. I would likely tell them something along the lines of "I didn't write it about you, but if the shoe fits, feel free to lace it up and wear it." Then I would make some jokes about something the charter did that they would never do, or was something funny. Maybe the character loved monkey. I'd crake some jokes about getting them a monkey from the zoo or a stuffed King Kong for Christmas. Something so we can all laugh it off, and no one has their feelings hurt. 

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@suspensewriter has a good point. 

 

I guess I was thinking character traits. Grumpy old men and overprotective mamas are stereotypes for a reason. However, using real events is a lawsuit waiting to happen.

 

What kind of similarities are you talking about? 

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How close are the similarities? I'd make sure they were general enough no one could say it was them. After all, some characteristics are similar to many people, and that is the joy of writing and reading, so that others can relate. I'd be careful writing scenes from real life without written permission from the person or persons involved. You can certainly use a real life event for inspiration, but be sure to change it enough that it is a fictionalized version of the truth. 

 

 I also include a disclaimer in my books, like many other authors do, just in case someone thinks I wrote about them. 

 

This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, organizations, and incidents are derived solely from the author’s imagination or are used fictionally.

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@Alley an example is my main character is an only child (female) who is very close to her cousin (also female). The cousin has two other siblings: a girl and a boy. I know a family that has an only child (boy) and he's very close to his cousin (girl). The cousin has a sister and a brother! I was not thinking about them when I was writing my book and they are actually good characters. But what if they believe I was writing about them🤔

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1 hour ago, Priscilla said:

Can someone tell me how to reply directly to a message here? I can't figure it out lol

@Priscilla, you mean a post? Hit "Quote". Or you can highlight the section you want and "Quote Selection" will pop up. Either way. 

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9 hours ago, Priscilla said:

But what if they believe I was writing about them🤔

Since they are not the only family with that number or experience, I would think not. However, I defer to @suspensewriter @Accord64 @EBraten or @lynnmosher on this one. They seem to know more about this subject than me. Since I don't know anyone that wields a sword or are citizens of a fantasy country, this hasn't applied to me. 😆  But yes, disclaimers are still good because, as we all know, coffee is hot. 🙄😋 

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12 hours ago, Priscilla said:

I know a family that has an only child (boy) and he's very close to his cousin (girl). The cousin has a sister and a brother!

That doesn't sound like something I'd personally worry about. There are lots of people who are close to their cousins. If there are other similarities (profession, age difference, educational qualifications, etc.), then that might be worth altering. But as you described it, that's a fairly generic setup.

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15 hours ago, Priscilla said:

@Alley an example is my main character is an only child (female) who is very close to her cousin (also female). The cousin has two other siblings: a girl and a boy. I know a family that has an only child (boy) and he's very close to his cousin (girl). The cousin has a sister and a brother! I was not thinking about them when I was writing my book and they are actually good characters. But what if they believe I was writing about them

I really don't think you've got anything to worry about!

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"[Insert book name] is a work of fiction. Names, characters, businesses, places, events and incidents are either the products of the author’s imagination or used in a fictitious manner. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, or actual events is purely coincidental."

 

This is the standard disclaimer many of us put in our fiction novels. It may protect us legally, but will it protect us from family and friends reading too much into our work? In my experience - NOPE.

 

Sometimes it can be easy to see how family/friends can see similarities, etc., and adjustments can be made. But in my experiences, most of the time you have no idea until someone reads it and gives you an earful of questions.

 

How do we avoid this? I don't think we can. It's part of the risk we take when we write and publish a story. I've always said...

 

writing-is-hard-or-youre-doing-it-wrong-f.-scott-fitzgerald-on-writing-cursive-content.jpg.6b54293fd5fdcd5e9763dd5b6b1f3018.jpg

 

Writing is also not for the timid.

 

If anyone is too worried about people taking your writing the wrong way, I have two words for you: Pen Name.

Edited by Accord64
Bad spelling
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10 hours ago, EBraten said:

That doesn't sound like something I'd personally worry about. There are lots of people who are close to their cousins. If there are other similarities (profession, age difference, educational qualifications, etc.), then that might be worth altering. But as you described it, that's a fairly generic setup.

Thanks for your point of view

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16 hours ago, Accord64 said:

"[Insert book name] is a work of fiction. Names, characters, businesses, places, events and incidents are either the products of the author’s imagination or used in a fictitious manner. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, or actual events is purely coincidental."

 

This is the standard disclaimer many of us put in our fiction novels. It may protect us legally, but will it protect us from family and friends reading too much into our work? In my experience - NOPE.

 

Sometimes it can be easy to see how family/friends can see similarities, etc., and adjustments can be made. But in my experiences, most of the time you have no idea until someone reads it and gives you an earful of questions.

 

How do we avoid this? I don't think we can. It's part of the risk we take when we write and publish a story. I've always said...

 

writing-is-hard-or-youre-doing-it-wrong-f.-scott-fitzgerald-on-writing-cursive-content.jpg.6b54293fd5fdcd5e9763dd5b6b1f3018.jpg

 

Writing is also not for the timid.

 

If anyone is too worried about people taking your writing the wrong way, I have two words for you: Pen Name.

Great advice. Your disclaimer is perfect. 

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