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Biography/How to deal with accusations/rumours in a memoir?


I'm editing a memoir of my late fathe who was an actor. Many people he mentioned in the manuscript are still alive.

May I ask what to do in this case? In one paragraph, he said he "heard" that a person had stolen some rare movies from a library.

Do I need to remove this paragraph for legal reason?

Thanks for your question, Kevin.

There could be fallout, legal or otherwise, from the statement as your father phrased it. You have several options:

1. Delete the phrase.
2. Keep the phrase and don't identify the person accused.
3. Restate the phrase with something like, "Several persons pointed fingers at a teenage girl (or other general description) and she was never charged."
4. Restate the phrase with something like, "The librarian discovered some rare movies missing and suspected theft, although no one was charged."

If you are writing your father's story then you do not have a memoir, you have a biography. It is a memoir when it is by and about the author. In a memoir, the author always speaks in the first person.

Best wishes for every success.


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Wayne Groner


I can answer questions on just about anything regarding writing and researching biographies, memoirs, corporate histories, and family histories including handling sensitive issues, interviewing, editing, self-publishing, and setting up a business as a memoir writer.


I have more than twenty-five years of experience as a radio and television news reporter, author, freelance writer, and workshop presenter. I present classes to nonprofits and professional groups, "How to Write Your Memoir or Life Story." I'm author of four nonfiction books. My latest book is A Guide to Writing Your Memoir or Life Story: Tools, Tips, Methods and Examples, available in paperback and eBook at Amazon. I'm past president of Springfield Writers' Guild (Missouri). My articles and book reviews on a variety of topics have been published in national magazines and on the Web. I was a senior-level college administrator for twenty-seven years, including nine years as a vice president, during which I wrote newsletters, brochures, magazine articles, and published and edited an alumni magazine.

Missouri Center for the Book, Springfield Writers' Guild, Greene County Historical Society, Christian County Historical Society.

Books: Witnesses of Hope, Faith, Love and Healing; Dumb Luck or Divine Guidance; The Pastor's Guide to Fund-raising Success; Levell-Drew Family History. National magazines including CASE Currents, Congregations, Ozarks Mountaineer, Your Community Hospice, Power and Light series of Sunday-school curriculum for adult learners.

Graceland College

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