What's your policy on writing stories based on incidents that happen to people in your life? Or stories that people in your life tell you about their friends or relatives? Or stories where a character is clearly Aunt Harriet or Uncle Bob? If you know they'll never see it does it change things?
Where do you draw the line? What's the proper protocol here?

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Yeah, I have a couple of true-crime stories of the "stupid, inc." variety in the book, and both are completely real, though enough details were changed to protect the guilty.

The only thing not fodder for the grist is something told in complete privacy by my spouse or a friend and using it, even in 'fictionalized' (i.e., slightly altered) form, would do the person damage. I'd like to think I have enough imagination to alter the story well enough so that it doesn't resemble the original but still accomplishes the goal.


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