1. VaughanV
    Offline

    VaughanV New Member

    Joined:
    May 28, 2011
    Messages:
    3
    Likes Received:
    0
    Location:
    England

    How would you write this?

    Discussion in 'General Writing' started by VaughanV, May 28, 2011.

    My girlfriend and I decided to retire early and moved to a Third World country to lead a quiet existence on a golf resort.

    Before we knew it, we were embroiled in a spider's web of deceit, fraudsters, prostitution, smugglers, secret police, attempted murder and a real-life king.

    I'm now wanting to write about this experience because it will entertain and educate so many people thinking of doing what we did.

    My problem is this: how do I describe what happened without suffering legal ramifications from the guilty parties involved in the saga? (The villains of the story are individuals and corporations.)

    I also don't want to exclude myself from publishers who would consider my work "a legal hot potatoe".

    I know that an obvious device to protect myself is to change the names of the parties who might take umbrage. However, given their high profiles and activites in the community in question, it would be obvious who they were.

    Should I also contact all the people who will feature in the story to alert them to what I am intent on writing?

    There is also the thought at the back of my mind that one of the baddies might send someone for me. I kid you not.

    How would you structure this? What would you suggest?

    Vaughan
     
  2. Chickendancer
    Offline

    Chickendancer Senior Member

    Joined:
    Jan 19, 2011
    Messages:
    106
    Likes Received:
    3
    Location:
    Australia
    Perhaps you could set it 50 years in the future? Or make it SF set on another planet?

    Personally, after what happened to Salmon Rushtie, I'd drop the idea. No book is worth having someone 'come for you'. If these jokers are that sensitive...well, it's your call.
     
  3. cruciFICTION
    Offline

    cruciFICTION Contributing Member Contributor

    Joined:
    May 18, 2011
    Messages:
    1,236
    Likes Received:
    49
    Location:
    Brisbane, Australia
    Damn, that's cool.

    I suggest you plan it out as an entire plot, then find really obvious big things and probably remove them. Possibly find a way to make the main character/s as different to yourselves as possible, and if you're worried about it alerting people to you, probably publish under a pseudonym.

    And really, it's all about the packaging. For example, adventure/romance will be a lot more subtle than crime. It's really just about the differences in packaging (of the novel, of the characters, and of the plot) that will allow it to be entirely legal and safe and all that.
     
  4. madhoca
    Offline

    madhoca Contributing Member Contributor

    Joined:
    Dec 1, 2008
    Messages:
    2,527
    Likes Received:
    88
    Location:
    the shadow of the velvet fortress
    Personally, I'd invent a new country, like calling it "Bhopala" (maybe a small state adjoining Bangladesh?) or "Nawabla" or something. It would be easier if it was an island, perhaps?

    Also, although where I live isn't a 'third world' country, many British people come here to retire or have what they think will be an easy and cheap life, and I'm often regaled with tales of this or that lawyer's or estate agent's iniquitous doings, when really the person concerned was being foolhardy and trying to plough ahead with some unwise scheme, throwing money around at the wrong people and not listening to the advice given by other expats who knew the score.

    I'm not saying this applies to you, but don't forget that you are only seeing things from one prespective--especially if you don't speak the language. There may have been some (or many) things you misjudged or misunderstood--again, I don't fully know your story, so don't think I'm trying to insult you! But stories like this tend to be more interesting--and have some humour also--if the writer tries to understand the situation from the locals' point of view as well. I wouldn't make this too personal, either--use your experiences as a basis for the plot, but change names completely (and characteristics of people and places) so you won't get and payback from those concerned after.

    And I just want to remind people that it really can be dangerous to write recognisably attacking a group of influential people. A friend of mine--retired corporation lawyer--got bored shortly after retiring to a pleasant, home counties village. He started to audit the accounts for the local sports club and uncovered an incredible can of worms, the effects of which were far-reaching. The police were strangely indifferent, so he began to write an Agatha Christie-style novel about it, but when people got wind of this, his car was trashed, his home broken into, his son was mysteriously attacked... This is all a true story and happening as we sit here...
     
  5. mammamaia
    Offline

    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

    Joined:
    Nov 21, 2006
    Messages:
    19,316
    Likes Received:
    1,014
    Location:
    Coquille, Oregon
    my best advice to you is to stop asking for advice about such a legally sensitive issue on writing sites and consult a literary attorney before writing anything about your experiences...
     
    1 person likes this.
  6. HotfireLegend
    Offline

    HotfireLegend Member

    Joined:
    Apr 28, 2011
    Messages:
    28
    Likes Received:
    0
    Wow, thats a bit cool. Well, apart from the near-murder thing!

    Rearrange the events, think of other reasons to put them together and change the names of everything. Submit the book with no photo and under a pen name.
    That, or ask the people who deal with law.
     
  7. StrangerWithNoName
    Offline

    StrangerWithNoName Longobard duke

    Joined:
    Nov 5, 2009
    Messages:
    352
    Likes Received:
    8
    Location:
    the waste lands, somewhere in Europe
    I'll go along with the suggestion of inventing a small african state and I'll try to write the events changing locations and real names, however be sure that if you'll get published somebody will understand the references you made.
     
  8. EdFromNY
    Offline

    EdFromNY Hope to improve with age Supporter Contributor

    Joined:
    Jun 13, 2010
    Messages:
    4,681
    Likes Received:
    2,533
    Location:
    Queens, NY
    I second mammamaia's suggestion - consult a literary attorney, which none of the well-meaning posters above are (as far as I know).
     
  9. lost123
    Offline

    lost123 Senior Member

    Joined:
    Feb 2, 2011
    Messages:
    100
    Likes Received:
    1
    You could make the story very fiction.
     
  10. madhoca
    Offline

    madhoca Contributing Member Contributor

    Joined:
    Dec 1, 2008
    Messages:
    2,527
    Likes Received:
    88
    Location:
    the shadow of the velvet fortress
    This is because the OP is from England, where we don't have literary attorneys. This kind of thing is outside the scope of a normal legal advisor, since it took place in a 'third world' country, where normal rules do not apply. They wouldn't bother with litigation if they felt threatened, if you get my drift. As to the 'big corporation', they're the only ones you need to be sure not to make recognisable--but surely a generic 'big corporation' could be invented? Like I said, you'd have to change some people and even events, and add others so that they weren't recognisible.
     
  11. VaughanV
    Offline

    VaughanV New Member

    Joined:
    May 28, 2011
    Messages:
    3
    Likes Received:
    0
    Location:
    England
    Thank you all for your thoughts so far. I appreciate it.

    I'm trying to find the balance between writing what is of interest, value and entertainment versus legality and fairness.

    Going the fictional country route would secure safety but at the expense of authenticity and credibility. Being British I have never heard of a literary attorney, but I'm sure big British publishers use them.

    I was in a North African country that is becoming increasingly popular with European tourists and investors. The cultural aspect is important to the story and it would seriously undermine the credibility of my account if it were vague.

    I'm also keen to present a balanced picture. It would be an easy mistake to write from a dark place within, i.e. a desire to even the score.

    The villains of the story are not the locals in the setting (they provide the entertainment and education element), but are the piratical foreign operators out to make a quick buck - or killing. These antagonists provide the suspense and shock factor that will keep people turning the page.

    I'm hoping to achieve a few positive secondary outcomes from my product. It will help so many people considering buying property in a foreign country. It will educate people more about a misunderstood culture. It might help tourism to the country in question. It might help Europeans be more understanding and respectful when holidaying in a foreign culture, thus reversing a negative spiral in the country we were located in.

    Taking off the rose-tinted glasses, I realize that I have several strategic obstacles to over come: 1) can I write? 2) is the story any good? 3) can I market my product successfully? 4) is there any demand for it from publishers? 5) will it sell if a the right publisher decides to back it with good marketing?

    At the moment I'm doing my due diligence in the planning phase.

    Please keep the ideas and suggestions coming - I really do appreciate it.

    Vaughan
     
  12. madhoca
    Offline

    madhoca Contributing Member Contributor

    Joined:
    Dec 1, 2008
    Messages:
    2,527
    Likes Received:
    88
    Location:
    the shadow of the velvet fortress
    Hello again. I thought you were in Goa at first--wondered where a king came in!

    I think you'll find that people in a country like that are so sensitive to criticism and have such a different understanding of humour that you still run the risk of causing offence to them. Unless you are Alexander McCall Smith.

    Will your novel--I take it this will be a novel, not a straightforward exposé--really have a big impact on the villains? If so, how can you possibly think that you'll have no payback? If I had 10 lira for every time I've wanted to write about the Turkish mafia but then shelved it, remembering they'd find me or my kids, I'd be rich. Don't think being in the UK will make you safe. If it won't really impact on them, you don't really need to worry.

    It seems to me you are not sure what type of work this will be, but I'm glad you aren't writing just to 'even the score'. If it's just a good book, why are you so concerned about complete authenticity? It could just cause unnecessary problems.

    It's hard to tell when we don't know how you are as a writer. Also, there's no point in making it completely topical for today, because you'll probably find that even if it gets accepted--which is not something to bet on, if this is your first work--it may not be out on the shelves for about another 2 years or more...
     
  13. mammamaia
    Offline

    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

    Joined:
    Nov 21, 2006
    Messages:
    19,316
    Likes Received:
    1,014
    Location:
    Coquille, Oregon
    balderdash!... you do have them, but just call them 'solicitors' where in the us, they're 'attorneys'...

    here's just the first one googling turned up:

    http://www.gillhams.com/legalservices/IP/copyright.cfm
     
  14. madhoca
    Offline

    madhoca Contributing Member Contributor

    Joined:
    Dec 1, 2008
    Messages:
    2,527
    Likes Received:
    88
    Location:
    the shadow of the velvet fortress
    This is not true. My mother is a solicitor, but she knows nothing about publishing. A solicitor is not the equivalent of a specialist literary attorney. Googling is not really the best way to find a reputable person, either. You just have to find any legal adviser who has experience of the publishing world, and generally it's not necessary to get this specialist advice anyway. It is not necessary in the UK, nor in our culture, to get legal advice for everything (it certainly is where I live in Turkey, though). If there is any sensitive issue, the publisher or agent advises you who to go to, or you can contact another author and ask them who they use.

    Edit: Just checked out your link. This firm usually represents companies, not individuals, unless they are well established writers, and their fees are accordingly rather high--too high to make this feasible for most people.

    In any case, individuals who are involved in illicit dealing do not resort to litigation, as I've said. Calling in the mafia or any handy bunch of thugs is far quicker and more effective--and this is more the kind of thing the OP is up against, IMHO. I speak as someone who has experience of this kind of harassment, and believe me it can happen to anyone.
     
  15. mammamaia
    Offline

    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

    Joined:
    Nov 21, 2006
    Messages:
    19,316
    Likes Received:
    1,014
    Location:
    Coquille, Oregon
    are you saying that jkr does not have an attorney/solicitor in the uk who has been handling her writing-related lawsuit/s?... who's representing her in court, then?

    so, in the uk, what is a 'legal adviser' if not an attorney/solicitor/barrister?
     
  16. madhoca
    Offline

    madhoca Contributing Member Contributor

    Joined:
    Dec 1, 2008
    Messages:
    2,527
    Likes Received:
    88
    Location:
    the shadow of the velvet fortress
    JKR is not short of a bob or two now but I sincerely doubt she had one before.
     
  17. Trilby
    Offline

    Trilby Contributing Member Contributor

    Joined:
    Jun 21, 2010
    Messages:
    2,098
    Likes Received:
    69
    Location:
    NE England
    I totally agree.

    Writers are writers not legal consultants.

    If you are unable to get sound legal advice then I'd forget the idea. It is one thing being 'dead famous' it is another to be 'famous and dead'.

    Think long and hard about this. I can understand you wanting to warn others, but there must be a way of doing this without putting yourself in danger - if not, don't.
     
  18. SteamWolf
    Offline

    SteamWolf Senior Member

    Joined:
    May 29, 2011
    Messages:
    153
    Likes Received:
    2
    Location:
    Newcastle
    What you are looking for here is a defamation lawyer.
    Personally, I'd change the names of all the characters and any organisations or companies. Also rename any significant towns or locations to either fictional ones, or real ones but in a different region.
     
  19. VaughanV
    Offline

    VaughanV New Member

    Joined:
    May 28, 2011
    Messages:
    3
    Likes Received:
    0
    Location:
    England
    Thank you one and all for your input.

    I've decided to write about our experience and to do so in its purest, truest form and then see if I can secure interest from agents and publishers.

    I'll leave it up to them as to how best to proceed.

    I do suspect that the final product may end up being like SteamWolf suggests.

    Now, can I write?...
     
  20. HorusEye
    Offline

    HorusEye Contributing Member Contributor

    Joined:
    Jul 25, 2009
    Messages:
    1,215
    Likes Received:
    48
    Location:
    Denmark
    Then go The Name of the Rose route:

     
  21. digitig
    Offline

    digitig Contributing Member Contributor

    Joined:
    Jan 21, 2010
    Messages:
    2,502
    Likes Received:
    79
    Location:
    Orpington, Bromley, United Kingdom, United Kingdom
    It sounds as if these are people who would not limit themselves to redress through the legal system.
     
  22. mammamaia
    Offline

    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

    Joined:
    Nov 21, 2006
    Messages:
    19,316
    Likes Received:
    1,014
    Location:
    Coquille, Oregon
    that's another issue altogether... salman rushdie learned quickly what the consequences could be from authors writing what violence-prone folks don't want to see in print...
     
  23. digitig
    Offline

    digitig Contributing Member Contributor

    Joined:
    Jan 21, 2010
    Messages:
    2,502
    Likes Received:
    79
    Location:
    Orpington, Bromley, United Kingdom, United Kingdom
    Agreed, but it's something the writer does need to take into account.
     
  24. SteamWolf
    Offline

    SteamWolf Senior Member

    Joined:
    May 29, 2011
    Messages:
    153
    Likes Received:
    2
    Location:
    Newcastle
    I see it as two options:
    a. change all the names, dates and locations and hope for the best, or
    b. speak the absolute truth and keep your head down (and hope for the best).
     

Share This Page