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Writing Books/fiction based on real people


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

Thanks for your question, Jim.

Anyone may be sued for anything, regardless of whether the suit has merit. You may be sued no matter how careful you are, no matter how many eyes read your manuscript, no matter how many legal opinions you receive. Whether a suit is successful depends on whether a judge agrees with an attorney's interpretation of the law.

Parody defined: A humorous or satirical imitation of a serious piece of literature or writing. Nothing in this definition prevents you from using real names. At issue is whether your parody defames or libels real persons.

These resources may help your understanding: and

Best wishes for every success.  

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Wayne Groner


I can answer questions on all aspects of writing memoirs, biographies, family histories, and corporate 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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