how do you write fiction from fact?

@ESKARENA1 (18304)
February 26, 2008 4:02pm CST
Im writing a book around my work in prison, the problem is how to write about my charges without naming them. I really cant afford the litigation lol, so i was wondering how you writers tell the story without identifying who these people are?
3 people like this
9 responses
@owlwings (38424)
• Cambridge, England
26 Feb 08
The way that most writers tackle the problem is to give their characters new names, different physical characteristics and backgrounds. In other words, disguise them completely. Most fiction writers, however, do not base their characters on a single individual but on a mix of characteristics and a description which may take parts of different individuals and blend them into a belivable, yet unidentifiable, whole. In other words, you need to take the 'world' you are writing about apart and create new characters for it using the pieces that you know about to build them in a way that fits the story and the message you want to convey.
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@ESKARENA1 (18304)
26 Feb 08
I was hoping for a different way, yet you surely show the usual way blessed be
1 person likes this
@p1kef1sh (45647)
26 Feb 08
Is your book fiction or autobiographical. In either case I think that sometimes you can't. So it is better not to draw on that thread if you think that it is likely to be problematic. However, if you work in generalities, and be hypothetical about certain circumstances, have it happen to somebody else, somewhere else then maybe you can get away with it. Good luck. Happy scribbling.
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@ESKARENA1 (18304)
26 Feb 08
sounds like good advice, Im not sure yet other than many of the cases i deal with are very well known lol thank you for the tips blessed be
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@derek_a (10903)
29 Feb 08
I wrote a novella for my writing class a few years back. It was based on my experiences as a musician in my teens during the 60s. I changed all the names, including my own, and also the names of clubs and places/towns where I had worked. Whilst the novella was factual, most of it was exaggerated and anybody who knew me would not have recognised themselves or me. It is amazing what just a changed name or even switching gender can disguise things. A friend of mine has also written a disparaging story of a famous organization he has had an argument with and lost - because of their great wealth and power. He has completely fictionalised it into fantasy story with bits of sci-fi thrown in. He says he is finding it very therapeutic.
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@ESKARENA1 (18304)
29 Feb 08
yes i am sure i will find it therapeutic too its just getting my way around the law blessed be
@CAMILLERI (373)
• Australia
27 Feb 08
Have you not heard that "FACTS ARE STRANGER THAN FICTION " What you need to do is write exactly the facts as you know them, but change the names as a protection. You can also have the liberty of embellishing the story with some fictitious deviations. WHO IS TO KNOW ??
1 person likes this
@Ohara_1983 (4122)
• Kuwait
27 Feb 08
changes thier names, i think lot of thing will be change so they will not be known that those are the person you mention in your book.
@Ravenladyj (22992)
• United States
27 Feb 08
Off the top of my head I'd say just change their names OR refer to them as "an inmate" or something like that....Other than that I really dont know come to think of it...
• United States
27 Feb 08
First and foremost, it is generally a poor idea to write a fictional account based upon real life situations. The fact is that most of us do not have that interesting a life, and those of us who do generally don't want it publicized much. The real trap to writing a fictional account based on real life is that you tend to go off on tangents that detract from the story. That is not to say that using your experience and what you know to be something that happens in real life to make your fictional account seem more real is a bad thing, it is a very valuable tool and will save you lots of research time on a believable scenario for your characters to find themselves in. If you cannot afford the litigation, then you should avoid telling any story that could only be identified as one person. You might combine the characteristics of one or more of your fellow inmates (sorry I probably mean your charges.. but somehow.. working in a prison makes you seem also incarcerated to a great degree. In general, you can develop characters that are a mosaic of several people, but using only those descriptions that actually help your story line, which should be in place via an outline before you actually develop your characters. There are writing courses and textbooks that can help you with story line, character development and other aspects of writing, and some drills that will improve your skills in these areas. One such a drill is to write a story that only has two characters, and is all dialog. Neither person can say where they are during the dialog, and yet you must have the reader be able to determine where they are. When you do this, you may find the answer to how you can write about events or people you have come across in your job without identifying them. Still, I would warn you to not base any fictional character so much on one person that they would be obviously identified by the writing.
@youdontsay (3503)
• United States
27 Feb 08
You have to be careful to not only avoid using their real name but also about including identifiable things about them. If you relate real life events it is way too easy to put in facts that identify the persons participating in that event. So even if you change their name they can know who you are talking about and litigate against you. It would be better to write a story that hasn't actually happened in your life but it could. Use the environment you know but use different events. For instance, I worked in a prison but I never actually witnessed violence. I know it occurred and I know what would happen when it occurred, but I didn't see it or even know who was involved. So I could create characters from bits of other people and events from bits of other events. See what I mean?
• Australia
27 Feb 08
talk about the crimes, about the personalities and the life stories of these people. try to be avgue whilst still leading to the point. make the reader assume this about these characters without actually saying the words, instead portray the character. and also you just change the names and events around a little and it could be based on any one of those prisoners instead base a character on a few of them rolled together and they wont be able to pick it.