Writing from the Facts (well maybe not everything…)

by | September 12, 2019 | Editing Corner, General, Writing Craft | 2 comments

When we write about erotica, we write from memory or what we want to see happen. In this type of writing, be careful it is from a true life event. One would never want to be sued by a misrepresented character in a book that was written with the likes of someone else that is actually known in a community or place that is frequently visited.

There are a few things that should be remembered when writing from your truth: make sure the remarks about a person are not defamatory, make sure that there is no issue with invading a true-to-life person’s privacy and make sure that there is in no way any unwarranted publicity or public humiliation.

We live in an age of entitlement and where people sue for anything. A writer should not want their royalties to go to paying off a defamation suit and not being able to have readers read what they have written. It will also provide your readers with reason not to trust your writing and other not to trust you with personal conversations or other information.

With “Big Brother” everywhere, people value privacy, no matter what. If Amazon can be sued for Alexa listening in on private moments, please don’t think that someone will not come for your words, in print, if it reveals someone’s private moments and thoughts. Make sure the writer always has disclaimers in the beginning of the book. Never use any recent full names or images from anywhere that is less than 100 years old. They have to be rightfully dead for 100 years, not assumed dead.

If a writer are ever accused of defamation, consider taking the book out of print, publishing a retraction and then putting out a new edition of the book without the information available in it. Always have editors and attorneys review the manuscript if it is believed that the fiction touches really close to true life.

Allow skeletons to lie in the closet unless they are truly meant to be unearth with no issues or ghosts haunting your doorsteps. Subpoenas are not hard to get and the writer’s words could get them served. If a writer wants the real interesting true-life information, take time out to go to the courts and look up publicly disclosed information.

If a writer wants to write the truth, write the whole truth and not just from a single point of view. Make it factual. Do not leave out the slightest detail because that could put the other person in a false light and the writer would could be sued as well.

Just a few common sense reminders to keeps us on our toes. One never knows when the words are printed whose life we actually affect.

Happy writing.


Iris Perkins


  1. Lisabet Sarai

    What a scary thought – being sued for defamation!

    Although it WOULD mean someone is reading my books….

    Thanks, Iris!

  2. Tig

    Good advice throughout! I hadn’t realised there was a 100-year rule, for example, and it’s quite alarming how quickly and easily you could get in trouble for quoting a song lyric, even when you’re crediting the owner within the same paragraph or dialogue, and actually using it in a complimentary way. Some people are just precious, but it’s the precious people you need to worry about (they are few, but downright tenacious).

    I think, next time I’m inclined to borrow a personality from real life, I will do a few more demographic overlays to entirely change the identity. Probably safer. Thanks for the reminder that we can never get complacent!

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