Lavanya 1 Comment In contrast to the writing in first personthe third person narrator is one of the most commonly used narrative modes.
Yet every fiction writer bases characters on real people. Memoirists and nonfiction writers identify people by name.
How can writers use real people in their work without risking a lawsuit? First, a simple rule.
“The truth is, I hate not being the first person narrator all the way through! To paraphrase David Copperfield, I don't know whether I'm the hero or the victim of this tale. Aug 25, · A few reasons, certainly not exhaustive, why an author would choose to write in the first person: The narrator has a particularly colorful view of the world. The general rule is: If an average person who reads your story or sees it on the screen has a good chance of identifying the people you are writing about, then you need those people's written permission.
For instance, you may thank someone by name in your acknowledgements without their permission. If you are writing a non-fiction book, you may mention real people and real events.
However, if what you write about identifiable, living people could be seriously damaging to their reputation, then you need to consider the risks of defamation and privacy and how to minimize those risks.
I am not talking about portraying your mother-in-law as a bossy queen bee; I am talking about portraying your mother-in-law as a drug dealer. Common sense and a cool head are key. The laws of other countries are more favorable to the targets. Defamation To prove defamation, whether libel for written statements or slander for spoken ones, a plaintiff target must prove all of the following: False Statement of Fact.
If a statement is true, then it is not defamatory no matter how offensive or embarrassing. Parody is not defamatory if the absurdity is so clear no reasonable person would consider the statements to be true.
Of an Identifiable Person: A defamatory statement must contain sufficient information to lead a reasonable person other than the target to identify the target. Typically, the target must be a living person, but companies and organizations have sued for defamation.
Oprah Winfrey was sued by a group of Texas ranchers after saying she had sworn off hamburgers because of mad cow disease.
Oprah won the case. One person other than the target must read or hear the statement. The statement must be more than offensive, insulting, or inflammatory. If the target is a public official or a public figure, then the plaintiff must prove the statement was made with actual knowledge that it was false or with a reckless disregard for the truth.
If the target is against a private individual, courts generally require some fault or negligence by the defendant. Invasion of Privacy Claims Even if you publish the truth, you may still be sued for invasion of privacy if you disclose private information that is embarrassing or unpleasant about an identifiable, living person and that is offensive to ordinary sensibilities and not of overriding public interest.
The target must have a reasonable expectation of privacy. Any conduct in public is not protected, particularly today when everyone carries a camera in their pocket. Similarly, public figures can have little expectation of privacy. A movie star lounging topless on a yacht should not be surprised that a camera with a long lens is pointing her way.
Typically, these cases involve incest, rape, abuse, or a serious disease or impairment.
Sex videos have triggered a number of suits. Even if the information is highly offensive, courts often decide there is no legal liability if the information is of public interest. Public interest does not mean high-brow or intellectual. Gossip, smut, and just about anything about celebrities is of public interest.
Frequently, courts find stories of rape, abuse, and incest to be of public interest if they are disclosed by the victims.Writing in third person: Examples & tips.
October 15, Some Famous 3 rd Person Accounts.
The Harry Potter Series by J. K. Rowling; John Gardner author of the acclaimed book of writing craft The Art of Fiction advocates the use of 3 rd person narrators, especially the omniscient narrator.
He writes, “In the authorial omniscient, the. If you are writing your book as fiction, then be sure that character is so different from the real person that the real person is not reasonably identifiable to other people.
You can also mask the identity in a memoir, although it’s easier for people to make the connection. Aug 25, · A few reasons, certainly not exhaustive, why an author would choose to write in the first person: The narrator has a particularly colorful view of the world. The letter may read something like this, “I represent [famous person] and by selling a book in which [famous person] is the main character, you have violated his right of publicity.
The general rule is: If an average person who reads your story or sees it on the screen has a good chance of identifying the people you are writing about, then you need those people's written permission.
Many famous people have written comprehensive memoirs about their lives. Referencing these books can add a great deal of credibility to your writing. Organize your research into an outline.