7 Ways to Avoid Lawsuits in Writing
By Rory C. Keel
When writing a biography, autobiography or memoir writers often worry about being sued for libel, slander or defamation. And since we don’t live life stranded on an island, our stories often include writing about other people that surround us. The truth is anyone can sue for anything even if it’s not justified. This can cost you, the writer, money.
Here are 7 ways to lessen your chances of a lawsuit.
- Don’t write about shady doctors and lawyers
- Write the truth about events, actions and conversations. Don’t exaggerate or lie except to change the identity of an individual.
- When disguising someone’s identity, make it difficult for someone to guess the individual.
- Don’t write about ex-lovers for revenge.
- Don’t accuse someone of a criminal act unless he or she has already been convicted. Otherwise only describe actual behavior and words, things that you can verify that were done or said in your presence. Remind your reader that this is your recollection and not a statement of fact.
- Don’t attribute a mental or physical disease to someone without having evidence that you can prove. Instead dramatize the person’s actual behavior from your point of view.
- Don’t accuse someone of being incompetent or dishonest in his or her job, a member of a cult or being a prostitute. Your best bet is to show their behavior as you observed them and describe your feelings assuring the reader of your opinion.
With these helpful hints, you can still have your First Amendment rights of free speech and confidence to write your stories with less chance of being sued.