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Creating Fictional Characters From Real Life People and Avoiding Libel

Updated on December 4, 2013

Answering the Questions

From a writer friend of mine, Rebecca Mealey: I would like information on how to write disclaimers, and ways to create characters loosely based on people from your past, cities, towns streets, etc. without getting into some kind of lawsuit. Has there ever been any lawsuits like that?

Well, I’ll answer the last question first….yes! In this lawsuit-happy world you better believe there have been lawsuits based on this topic, so to avoid any of you getting sued, let’s take a look at how to create fictional characters based on actual people from your past. If you are ready then so am I.

Many of these people have appeared in my articles and books
Many of these people have appeared in my articles and books | Source

Are You Ready to Write Your Novel?

Well just hold on a minute there Bucko!

I happened to have snuck a peak at your manuscript, and you mention a few characters that very closely resemble some people from your past. One character is depicted as a child molester, and another is written to be lazy and shiftless, uncaring about others and filled with ego.

You just might want to be a bit careful before going to printing with that book.

Here’s the thing about libel laws in the United States: they are a bit vague and as such they are a bit scary if you are a writer basing characters on real people.

Libel is defined as a false statement of fact “of and concerning” a person that damages their reputation. The good news for novelists is that most times lawsuits filed against writers are thrown out of court. The bad news is that this does not happen all of the time. There are times when the writer loses that court battle and pays damages; thus the reason for this article.

For a novel to be libelous, it must be convincing in its detail about a character. The description of the fictional character must leave practically no doubt that a real person was used as a model. Finally, there must be implicit belief that what the author said was true.

My Alaskan friends have starred in my books
My Alaskan friends have starred in my books | Source

How, Then, Do We Avoid Libel?

There are several techniques that can be used to limit the chance of being sued for libel in fiction writing. They are: disclaimer; remove as much as possible the character from the real person; give an accurate description but do not disparage; and wait until the real person dies.

DISCLAIMER

I just grabbed a novel from my shelf. It is called “The Water’s Edge” by Daniel Hudson, and inside the title page are these words: “This is a work of fiction. All of the characters, organizations, and events portrayed in this novel are either products of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously.”

Although not fool-proof, most cases in courts have upheld the author’s rights when a disclaimer appears in the book. In fact, the mere word “novel” in the subtitle of your book is usually enough to protect the author.

REMOVE OR CHANGE THE CHARACTER AS MUCH AS POSSIBLE

Change the physical characteristics of your characters as much as possible. Change their mannerisms. Do whatever it takes to remove the character from the real life person it represents. If the real person was an ass then make the character likeable. Better yet, mix and match several real life people and make them one character.

If you have ever read “Primary Colors” by Joe Klein, a novel heavily based on President Clinton, you will begin to understand the amount of freedom a writer has in describing characters.

AVOID DISPARAGEMENT

Be kind in your description of a real person and chances are excellent you will not be sued; on the other hand, get nasty and nastiness just might be reciprocated.

THE DEAD CAN’T SUE

The greatest loophole in the libel laws relates to the fact that dead people cannot sue for libel, so if you really want to depict a real person as a despicable human being, wait until they die to do so.

And What If Everything You Write Is True?

Again we are in murky waters. According to libel laws, truthful information is considered public information. However, there have been cases where private individuals sued for truths that were considered offensive and embarrassing and they won their lawsuits. Once you start treading the waters of sexuality, mental stability and medical conditions, you then have crossed an invisible line in the libel laws and you may find yourself in some trouble.

There is also something known as the right of publicity. This refers to the fact that a novelist cannot use a person’s name or likeness for commercial gain. In other words, I cannot write a novel using Brad Pitt as my main character simply for the purpose of selling books. I could, however, use a character based on Pitt who is married to a glamorous actress and blah, blah, blah, and I would be fairly safe in doing so.

WHEN IN DOUBT

Well, you can always contact a publishing attorney and ask about your rights. It is an expensive remedy, but if you really are on thin ice it might be the only remedy that makes good legal sense.

From a Practical Standpoint

In truth I don’t know any novelists who do not use real people as models for their characters. We all draw upon our pasts for inspiration and information. That is only natural. With sixty-five years under my belt, and thousands of people weaving through the tapestry of my life, it stands to reason that some of those people would appear in my novels. There is no doubt that every character in my novel “The 12/50 Shuttle From Yesterday To Today” was based on real people from my life. There is no doubt that the same is true in the novel I am currently writing. I have gone to great lengths not to insult any of the living people I have used as models and so far I have avoided lawsuits.

What About Historical Fiction?

I had the opportunity to serve as editor for a recent novel called “The Gray Ship” written by Russ Moran. This was a time-travel novel about a modern warship that is transported back to the Civil War. Several historical figures are in that novel, so there is no hiding underneath a cloak of disguise for the author. Still, he was writing about people who are dead, so he was on solid ground no matter what he wrote about those figures.

I am reminded of a brilliant writer by the name of Bruce Catton who wrote historical accounts of the Civil War, but he brought the characters to life by fabricating conversations so that truth and fiction were intertwined and the lines were hazy at best. There is nothing libelous at all about the way Catton wrote his accounts of the Civil War. In fact, he ended up with a Pulitzer Prize for his efforts.

And oh yes, Bev has even been in my books, and I doubt she will sue me
And oh yes, Bev has even been in my books, and I doubt she will sue me | Source

The Ultimate Bottom Line

Yes, we all do it. Yes, we will all continue to do it. Our past experiences are the Mall where we buy our inspiration for novels. There is nothing wrong in using real people as models for our characters. Just be careful that your enthusiasm for a realistic portrayal does not walk over those invisible lines mentioned above. There are so many ways to avoid libel; it would just be silly and careless to not use those ways as protection when writing your next great novel.

2013 William D. Holland (aka billybuc)

“Helping writers to spread their wings and fly.”

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    • Janine Huldie profile image

      Janine Huldie 3 years ago from New York, New York

      I definitely have loosely based a few of the characters in my novel on those that I came across in my past, but like you said I tried my best to make it a loose interpretation and definitely tried to keep in in its proper perspective. That said, I love the idea of adding a disclaimer and will totally keep this and more if I ever do get around to publishing it. Thanks Bill for your insight on this and truly appreciate it. Have a great day now my friend!

    • Ericdierker profile image

      Eric Dierker 3 years ago from Spring Valley, CA. U.S.A.

      Wonderfully informative. The biggest problem for most writers who get into trouble here is the "nuisance" lawsuit. Just to go into court to get it kicked out will cost thousands and that stinks.

    • profile image

      ocfireflies 3 years ago

      When consumed by a writing project, liability may not be something is focused on. Thanks for the reminder and the useful information so folks do not get caught up in a lawsuit--in this sue crazy world we live in.

      Thank You,

      Kim

    • billybuc profile image
      Author

      Bill Holland 3 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Janine, the disclaimer seems to be the way to go; that way you are safe under the law in almost all cases. Thanks for your thoughts this chilly morning.

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 3 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Good point Eric! Even if there is no chance you are wrong you still lose....and yes, it stinks. Thanks buddy!

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 3 years ago from Olympia, WA

      It is, Kim, and it's a shame an article like this even has to be written....but it does.

      Thank you as always my friend.

    • Jackie Lynnley profile image

      Jackie Lynnley 3 years ago from The Beautiful South

      Great points here Bill, for in the old days these characters probably never read a book, lol, but today they are looking for a suit!

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 3 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Too funny, Jackie. You gave me a laugh and for that I thank you. :) Have a great day my friend.

    • JayeWisdom profile image

      Jaye Denman 3 years ago from Deep South, USA

      Excellent advice, Bill! Combining traits from several different real people to create a composite character is a good technique, but the writer must still be careful with details that might make a person recognizable to those who know him or her, especially if the character does something reprehensible in the story. If a real person is easily identifiable in a character, then his or her actions (even though fictional) might be believed by readers as something the real person did. That's setting up one's self (as a writer) as a target for litigation. It's best to be cautious.

      Voted Up++

      Jaye

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 3 years ago from Olympia, WA

      I agree, Jaye. As much as we would like to be true in our depiction of a real person, there is no sense in taking such a large risk. It just isn't worth it. Thanks for your thoughts and wisdom my friend.

      bill

    • Mary McShane profile image

      Mary McShane 3 years ago from Fort Lauderdale, Florida

      If I couldn't use real people (mostly dead) and fabricate their conversations about real events, alter some of their life events to a different outcome or to fit my story line, mingle them to hobnob with my fictional characters, and even give them different likes and dislikes as appropriate to my story, then I'd just be another writer in a long line of writers. I try to use only dead people when I name drop in my books. Real life people scare the crap out of me, I'm afraid of being sued. lol All writing has some fact and some fiction. Intermingling true facts into your fictional story is a writer's way of grabbing and keeping your reader's attention and making your story entertaining and enjoyable. The customary disclaimer on the work (inside cover, bottom of article/hub, etc.) is all- important as it is a CMA statement (cover my ass). Good hub, Bill

    • profile image

      Ghaelach 3 years ago

      Evening Bill.

      All great points you make. But let me ask you a question, "How many WIlliam D. Holland's are there in the US alone" never mind the other English speaking nations. That's the problem about waiting until they have died. There's always going to be a William D. Holland somewhere or a Jackie Lynnley or anyone else you care to name. We just have to watch where we put our feet and not to jump in with both feet at once.

      I think "Disclaimer" is the key word Bill.

      Take care and keep wrapped up.

      LOL Ghaelach

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 3 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Mary, the best part of your wonderful comment is Cover My Ass! LOL Truer words were never written my friend. Thank you for your insights and experience. An ounce of prevention and all that. :)

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 3 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Ghaelach, your point, although humorous, is a good one. In the vast majority of libel cases regarding writers, the case is tossed out of court. One must be very, very careless to lose one of these case. Just be careful and yes, disclaimer is the key. Thank you Sir!

    • annart profile image

      Ann Carr 3 years ago from SW England

      Good evening, bill! It's the same here, a disclaimer saying 'Any resemblance to persons living is purely coincidental....' I think common sense would dictate how far we can go with character descriptions. Let's face it, there are enough people with similar mannerisms, good or bad, to be able to say, 'oh, that wasn't you, that was ...(so and so)'.

      I think some people are flattered that they're used as a basis for a fictional character even if it's a bad one - we all have our darker side!

      Hope you've got some sunshine even if it's cold. Enjoy your evening! Ann

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 3 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Oh Ann, it's sunny but my goodness it's cold. I have the floor heater underneath my chair while I type. LOL

      Common sense my friend. That's all we need as writers. Hopefully we all have it. :)

      Sleep well and thank you as always for being here.

      bill

    • profile image

      DJ Anderson 3 years ago

      This is getting a bit weird. I will think to myself, "I need to get some clarification on this. I'll zip off an e-mail to Bill, tomorrow."

      The next morning you will answer my question. (spooky music plays here)

      Great hub, as always, Bill.

      Thanks for all the super information.

      Now, stay out of my head! LOL

      DJ.

    • kidscrafts profile image

      kidscrafts 3 years ago from Ottawa, Canada

      I love your advice about choosing dead people as characters because they can't sue you!

      If someone has to sue a writer because they think one of the character in the book is based on them and they feel threaten about that.... may be it's time for them to change the way they act. But as you said, the best way to proceed is probably mix and match several real life people into one.... and have a disclaimer on top of it!

      Great advices as usually, Bill!

      Have a great day!

    • billybuc profile image
      Author

      Bill Holland 3 years ago from Olympia, WA

      But DJ, it's so much fun inside of there! LOL Okay, I promise, I'll keep out for the remainder of the day.

      Hey, guess what? I appreciate you.

    • mpropp profile image

      Melissa Propp 3 years ago from Minnesota

      Thanks Bill, this was very informative. I did not realize that if the person is dead, you can't be sued! I would have thought the family of the deceased would have some sort of rights to protect their loved one's reputation...My take away is: if you can't say something nice, say it about a dead person! :)

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 3 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Melissa, you had me literally laughing out loud with that last line. I love it!

      Stay warm my friend; winter is about to hit with a vengeance.

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 3 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Thanks Joelle! We live in a lawsuit society so it's best to just play it safe and avoid any possible problems.

    • ChristyWrites profile image

      Christy Birmingham 3 years ago from British Columbia, Canada

      This is just so interesting, Bill! I write short stories and hope to publish a fiction book so it's great to have this info. Well written and well researched too, my friend. Voted up and sharing!

    • bravewarrior profile image

      Shauna L Bowling 3 years ago from Central Florida

      It's almost comical when you advice to wait until someone dies in order to make them a recognizable character in a book, but so true!

      I'm finding now that I'm venturing into short stories that I pull scenery or objects from my past as opposed to people. Although, much of Faith's beginnings are based on my own difficulty in making friends as a little girl.

      I think we definitely pull from life experiences when we write fiction, otherwise we may not know where to begin. People and life are fascinating. So is writing. Life is a tool in so many ways and is the motivation behind bringing words to life. Nevertheless, we must be careful when modeling characters after real people.

      Excellent article, Bill!

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 3 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Thanks Christy! I appreciate you stopping by and good luck with that fiction book. I hope you have started it; if not, soon then.

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 3 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Well stated, Sha. In fact, so well stated that I have nothing to add. LOL Thank you my dear.

    • sallybea profile image

      Sally Gulbrandsen 3 years ago from Norfolk

      Hello Billy,

      I Imagine that I might have to wait for them to enter the pearly gates before I publish their story. I always like to tell it as it is and describe their every wart or wrinkle - poor blighters - they might start turning in their graves! This made me smile, that is because I am itching to put some of those real life characters into print.

      Voted up

      Sally

    • Mel Carriere profile image

      Mel Carriere 3 years ago from San Diego California

      Once again you've managed to educate and entertain simultaneously. Shame on you! As a novelist myself who has shamelessly pilfered the shelves of history it's good to know I'm on safe ground. Great hub!

    • tobusiness profile image

      Jo Alexis-Hagues 3 years ago from Bedfordshire, U.K

      Bill, what if the real person you wanted to write about was a nasty piece of work and this was the character trait the writer needed to reflect in a novel, but the family are sure to take umbrage with what is written.

      And what about writing about members of your own family who may or may not be dead, some may approve and others may take offense so where do the writer stands legally? This is very useful information that every writer needs, and I'm certainly saving it for later.

      Nice work my friend!!

    • billybuc profile image
      Author

      Bill Holland 3 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Yes, Sally, let them die first. It's easier that way; then load up the cannons and fire away. :) Thanks for the laugh...poor blighters...I love it.

      bill

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 3 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Mel, pilfer away my friend. It's common practice and in fact encouraged. :) Thanks my letter-carrying novelist friend.

    • billybuc profile image
      Author

      Bill Holland 3 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Jo, 99 times out of 100, if you put a disclaimer at the start of the novel, then you are safe. Change the physical description of the character and then let it rip. If they were a nasty piece of work then they get what they deserve...just change their name and appearance.

      As for family members...legally it is the same situation. If you name a family member by their real name, and rip them to shreds, you could possibly face some problems.

      Thank you, Jo!

    • profile image

      sheilamyers 3 years ago

      Ok ... question time. Do you think I'm leaving myself open to a lawsuit by not having a disclaimer at the front of my novels? I don't have one, but it's obvious my novels are just that - novels. And Gaelach makes a good point. If we all have characters named John Smith (there are probably thousands of John Smiths) just so happens to fit a real person (or many people (unintentionally of course) all of us could be the target for hundreds of lawsuits. In all actuality almost all of my main characters are based on real people; however, I try to combine traits so they don't sound like any one person.

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 3 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Sheila, if you combine traits of several people you have nothing to worry about.....still...I would put a disclaimer on future novels. It's only a couple sentences and then you are safe. :) Thanks for the visit my PA friend.

    • epbooks profile image

      Elizabeth Parker 3 years ago from Las Vegas, NV

      This is a question that I'm sure comes up so often and you outlined the answers/resolutions wonderfully. Great advice, Bill.

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 3 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Thank you Liz! It is a common concern among fiction writers and I hope this helps some of them.

    • Radcliff profile image

      Liz Davis 3 years ago from Hudson, FL

      Wasn't there an incident where a guy sued Adele or Taylor Swift or somebody because he was the one who made her miserable enough to write songs that made a ton of money?

    • billybuc profile image
      Author

      Bill Holland 3 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Sounds familiar, Lizzy, but I don't remember the specifics. I would think the more famous you are the more apt you are to get sued...but maybe I'm just being cynical. :) Thanks for stopping by my Dunedin Dynamo.

    • Radcliff profile image

      Liz Davis 3 years ago from Hudson, FL

      But you never know when fame and fortune will strike, so it's better to be safe than sorry!

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 3 years ago from Olympia, WA

      True dat, Lizzy! :)

    • Faith Reaper profile image

      Faith Reaper 3 years ago from southern USA

      Very important information here dear Bill! Having said that, it would be very hard for me to not use the true personality traits of persons I have known in my life, but I would make sure to change their appearance, but still come across with their same nasty self personality, as you say, mix them up a bit to create an even more interesting character.

      I just read about Dillinger's family trying to sue for libel, but could not due to he was dead, but being he was famous, they could under the other avenue you mentioned about people who are famous and making money off of their name due to fame.

      Up and more and sharing

      Blessings, Faith Reaper

    • MsDora profile image

      Dora Isaac Weithers 3 years ago from The Caribbean

      Another very useful lesson. You cleared up some concerns for me. I've been tempted very often to write about people who wouldn't listen, in the hope that they would read. I've never done it though; and thanks to you, if I ever yield to the temptation, I'll be careful.

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 3 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Dora, it is toughest when writing about family members. Then it is hard to deny that we were writing about them, and it can lead to embarrassment and hard feelings. I tend to really disguise a person if they are my relation.

      Thanks as always for stopping by.

      bill

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 3 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Faith, I had to laugh when you mentioned Dillinger's family. My goodness....how could anyone write something about that man and paint him in a good light? LOL Well, blood runs deep I guess, so I shouldn't be surprised that his family is "up in arms." Excuse the pun.

      Thank you my dear. I hope your evening has been rewarding.

      blessings always

      bill

    • teaches12345 profile image

      Dianna Mendez 3 years ago

      I think I will stay away from using anyone I know as a character. They are much too crazy anyway and no one would believe it. I like your suggested use of a disclaimer. Very useful information and one that will prevent a lawsuit.

    • DDE profile image

      Devika Primić 3 years ago from Dubrovnik, Croatia

      An informative hub to all writers and you said to so well. You made the most helpful points in using characters. Always great ideas from you well done!

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 3 years ago from Olympia, WA

      LOL..Dianna, I love it! Same with some of my extended family. Safer just to make characters up. Thanks for the laugh.

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 3 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Thank you DDE! I hope you can use these tips for your future book.

    • drbj profile image

      drbj and sherry 3 years ago from south Florida

      Hi, Bill. Do not speak ill of the dead whether you are talking or writing about them. That's my motto. And a disclaimer is essential but not foolproof under the laws of some of our states, e.g., California.

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 3 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Very true, drbj...there have been lawsuits won despite the disclaimer....so tiptoe lightly when writing that novel. :) Thanks my friend and enjoy the rest of your day.

    • rtburroughs2 profile image

      Robert Burroughs 3 years ago

      Hello Bill, I always love reading your Hubs. I just started following you on Wordpress. I was browsing your homepage and I was wondering if you have any Hubs on building your Wordpress accounts.

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 3 years ago from Olympia, WA

      rtburroughs, thanks for following my blog. The answer to your question is no. I really am a novice when it comes to Wordpress, so I'm not going to be much help to you. Sorry!

    • Nadine May profile image

      Nadine May 3 years ago from Cape Town, Western Cape, South Africa

      Thank you again for an interesting and informative hub. Yes most of us do write about the people we have come across in our lives, but by changing names, descriptions and other details.... there can't be a lawsuit surely. Especially if there is a disclaimer in the front of the book that none of the characters represent real people. In many non-fiction health related books authors write about their case studies but we as publishers always insist that names are changed and even sometimes the gender. Thanks for the video links.

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 3 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Nadine, thanks for the professional slant on this....experience is always the best teacher and I appreciate your input. Thanks as always and I hope you have a marvelous weekend.

    • marcoujor profile image

      Maria Jordan 3 years ago from Jeffersonville PA

      Comprehensive, practical and most useful information, Bill.

      Have a peaceful evening. Love, Maria

    • billybuc profile image
      Author

      Bill Holland 3 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Thank you Maria. Bev just beat me in cribbage and now it is time to read. Sleep well kind lady.

      love,

      bill

    • vkwok profile image

      Victor W. Kwok 3 years ago from Hawaii

      Really great advice to consider. Thanks, Bill!

    • billybuc profile image
      Author

      Bill Holland 3 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Thanks vkwok. I hope this helps you with your books.

    • Gypsy Rose Lee profile image

      Gypsy Rose Lee 3 years ago from Riga, Latvia

      Great advice Bill. I know a lot of writers base characters on people they know or have seen.

    • AliciaC profile image

      Linda Crampton 3 years ago from British Columbia, Canada

      Great information and advice, Bill. This is a very important topic for writers, because it's often hard to avoid basing a fictional character on someone that we know.

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 3 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Rasma, I'll bet the percentage of writers who do that is very high. Thanks for stopping by and happy holidays to you and yours.

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 3 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Alicia, it certainly is hard for me to do. Thank you and I hope you are staying warm this weekend.

    • aviannovice profile image

      Deb Hirt 3 years ago from Stillwater, OK

      Another very useful piece that can save a lot of grief. Thanks again, Billy, for your wisdom.

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 3 years ago from Olympia, WA

      It's always my pleasure, Deb. Thank you and have a great week.

    • Jo_Goldsmith11 profile image

      Jo_Goldsmith11 3 years ago

      This is wonderfully written with great detail and advice.

      I have found away around the libel part, by concentrating on a different angle. It is from a child's point of view, and written in a way that it could be any child's story. I guess, I have no fear when it comes to getting the truth out. And then I look at my sweet husband, and I realize I must think about the stress it would cause him. So, I find myself approaching it in a way, the suing and court stuff wouldn't happened.

      Awesome info Bill. You are the best! Up +++, shared..

    • billybuc profile image
      Author

      Bill Holland 3 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Jo, thanks for sharing your approach to this. Interesting to say the least and I will keep it in mind.

      blessings and love coming your way

      bill

    • sybol profile image

      sybol 3 years ago

      Thank you,

      This has changed my strategy for some of my writings. I needed this information.

    • billybuc profile image
      Author

      Bill Holland 3 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Sybol, I'm very happy to hear that. Good luck and thank you.

    • rdsparrowriter profile image

      rdsparrowriter 3 years ago

      Thank you for sharing this valuable piece of advice :) It's a great reminder. I didn't get into a lawsuit but I did got into trouble plenty of times when I wrote my first story book in poetry since everyone who read them thought I have actually gone through them and someone I loved other than my father had died. If I'm writing about a tall person, I make sure to write opposite things in physical appearance. Real people with imaginary situations or imaginary characters in real situations. In a way, it's fun :)

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 3 years ago from Olympia, WA

      rdsparrowriter, it is fun mixing and matching and finding ways to camouflage who we are writing about. Good luck and thanks.

    • Glimmer Twin Fan profile image

      Glimmer Twin Fan 3 years ago

      This is why I love your hubs. I've never really thought about this. It's interesting and something to keep in mind. I guess I won't be able to write my novel about a prolific writer named millymuc on PubHages who is trying to change the world, one article at a time! :-)

    • billybuc profile image
      Author

      Bill Holland 3 years ago from Olympia, WA

      LOL...Glimmer, I laughed out loud. Go ahead and write that novel; I give my permission. :) Thanks for the New Year laugh.

    • B. Leekley profile image

      Brian Leekley 2 years ago from Kalamazoo, Michigan, USA

      Good, sensible advice. The tip "change the character" could be a hub on its own. I begin with William D. Holland. I place him in 1915 Chicago. He is disillusioned in his career as a newspaperman and quits to devote himself to painting. I change him to her and name her Holly D. Williams. Holly is a radical artist involved in a plot to blow up City Hall.

    • billybuc profile image
      Author

      Bill Holland 2 years ago from Olympia, WA

      I love it, Brian! A true writer, you are. I've done similar things in the past. I find it challenging and oh, so enjoyable, when a character comes to live after a little tweaking like that. Thanks for the examples.

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