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.

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