using real people as my charaters

by Jarrett Branson
(Bourbon MO united states)

Question: What is the the law on using real live people as my characters in my novel? For instance I want to write a fiction novel about the Vietnam War using real soldiers who serve in Vietnam. The story is fiction but the soldiers are real. Can this be done without permission from these people? There will be no discredit of these people. They are made to be Heroes Thanks Jarrett

Answer: In cases like this, it is usually safer to make the characters unrecognizable, perhaps by combining traits of several characters into one or changing enough traits so that the actual people won't recognize themselves. You can use many of the same events, just have them happen to different people.

You may think you are writing a flattering portrayal of someone, but you have no idea how they will take it. To take an extreme example: what if one of these heroes has since married a committed pacifist, having told her he was a draft dodger. Let's say a friend reads the book and tells the spouse that her husband is really a war veteran, and she breaks up with him.

I know that is unlikely, but you just never know how someone will take something. It's safer to use fictional characters.

Click here to post comments

Join in and submit your own question/topic! It's easy to do. How? Simply click here to return to Questions About Novel Writing.

search this site the web
search engine by freefind

Celebrating our 2nd year as one of the...

 Step-by-Step Novel Planning Workbook

NEW! Make Money Writing Nonfiction Articles

"I've read more than fifty books on writing, writing novels, etc., but your website has the most useful and practical guidance. Now that I understand how a novel is structured, I will rewrite mine, confident that it will be a more interesting novel." - Lloyd Edwards

"Thanks to your "Create a Plot Outline in 8 Easy Steps," I was able to take a story that I simply just fooled around with and went willy nilly all over, into a clearly defined, intriguing battle where two characters fight to keep their relationship intact, and try to find a balance in control of themselves and their lives. Thanks to you, I'm not ashamed of the poor organization of my writing." - Nommanic Ragus

"I am so glad I found your site. It has helped me in so many ways, and has given me more confidence about myself and my work. Thank you for making this valuable resource, for me and my fellow writers. Perhaps you'll hear about me someday...I'll owe it to you." - Ruth, Milton, U.S.A.

"I never knew what to do with all the characters in my head, but since discovering Dramatica I am writing again in my spare time. Thank you for making this available. Yes, it is a bit complex, and it does take time, but I love it because it works." - Colin Shoeman

"I came across your website by chance. It is a plethora of knowledge, written in a simplistic way to help aspiring writers. I truly appreciate all of the information you have provided to help me successfully (relative term) write my novel. Thank you very much!" - Leo T. Rollins

"I can honestly say that this is the first website that is really helpful. You manage to answer complex questions in relatively short articles and with really intelligent answers. Thank you for taking the time to write these articles and sharing them so generously." - Chrystelle Nash

"...had no idea that a simple click would give me such a wealth of valuable information. The site not only offered extremely clear and helpful instructions but was a very enjoyable read as well. The education from your wonderful site has made me a better writer and your words have inspired me to get back to work on my novel. I wish to give you a heartfelt thanks for How to Write a Book Now, sir." -- Mike Chiero