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I want to write a story about a mortgage crime that I witness and then turned in to the authorities. It is the biggest mortgage fraud case ever in this state. How do I tell the story and keep it real without using the real names and the role they played

Take a tip from TV.  Shows like Law & Order do this all the time.  A story hits the news, and they just change it enough to make it fiction.

They do this by, yes, changing names, but much more than that.  They change locations, genders, ages, nationalities, etc.  In other words, anyone familiar with the real story that inspired the show might see similarities, but that would be about it.

So try that, Sherry.  I'd begin by setting it in a different state, even a different type of setting (e.g., if it really took place in a big city, set it in a small town, etc.).  I'd change the ages of those involved, even their genders.  (And keep in mind that when you do this, you invariably change a lot of the story, since you'll be wanting to make the story fit the characters, rather than vice versa.)  

Hope that's helpful.

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Vincent M. Wales


I am a speculative fiction novelist (fantasy, science fiction, and so on). While I may be able to answer questions on non-fiction, my specialty is fiction. Please keep that in mind when asking questions.


For four years, I taught a series of fiction writing classes in Sacramento, CA.

BA in fiction writing.

Awards and Honors
My 2004 novel, ONE NATION UNDER GOD, won BEST FICTION in Fresh Voices 2006, BEST FICTION and BEST YA FICTION in the NCPA Book Awards, and placed as a finalist in BEST BOOKS 2005. In 2002, my novel WISH YOU WERE HERE won awards for Best Fantasy and Best Fiction/Drama in the 8th Annual SPA Awards. My latest work is a trilogy titled THE MANY DEATHS OF DYNAMISTRESS (a superhero memoir). The first book, RECKONING, was released in 2013 and won the SF category in the 2014 San Francisco Book Festival, took second place in the 2013 Royal Dragonfly Book Awards for the SF/Fantasy/Paranormal category, second place in the SF category of the 2013 Reader Views Reviewers Choice Awards, and was finalist in Foreword's 2013 Book of the Year Awards, Fantasy category. The second book, REDEMPTION, will be released in early 2015 and the final book, RENAISSANCE, is scheduled for release in late 2016.

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