You are here:

Writing Books/fiction based on real people


Could there be any legal problem if I write a parody of a real event, and use the names of the real characters involved in that event? The event took place in about 1980, and many of the people are still living.

Jim... if you are doing fiction... simply change the names, the event and write about it any way you wish.

If you are going to use "real" names, I would suggest you get the person's written agreement that it is okay to use their name... people are funny about seeing their names used in print... if it is complimentary, probably you will have no trouble... but if the words are perceived as "hateful" or perhaps overly sarcastic or with a racial or ethnic undertone, who knows what they will do.

It is always wise when using the real names of living people to get a written agreement from them when writing anything but the "real" facts... such as in a nonfiction article... lawsuits can occur from a "perceived" comment even though the writer didn't intend it that way.

Granted this is not a black and white answer, but falls into a "gray" area of journalism and creative nonfiction writing on how to handle "quoting" living people.

When I was writing nonfiction articles and I quoted someone, I would always read the quote back to the person to make sure that is what they said... then in my notes make sure I noted the person had agreed to this quote.

In this case, you may want to get the "living" persons written permission, however some sarcasm falls  under "free" speech...

Bottom line - why do you feel you need to do this parody?  Sue  

Writing Books

All Answers

Answers by Expert:

Ask Experts


Sue Viders


I can answer various questions about how to create characters for fiction writers.


Two published books, Heroes and Heroines, and Ten Steps to Creating a Memorable Character, plus years of teaching both on-site and on-line

Several national magazines...had monthly columns


©2017 All rights reserved.

[an error occurred while processing this directive]