When you’re a writer, there’s a tricky line you have to balance between having experiences with people and using those experiences as material. As a writer who spends time with a lot of writers, I’ve been on all sides of this equation. I’ve been the girl who found herself summarized, not so kindly, in an ex’s article in a magazine. I’ve counseled a friend through a fight with another writer who was making my friend into a regular “character” in her columns and didn’t understand why my friend had an issue with it since her name had been changed. And I’ve been the one who’s lifted scenarios, situations, names and characteristics of the people she knows.
Obviously, I try to be as careful as I possibly can. While we can’t copyright what we say and do among friends and lovers, everyone should feel comfortable behaving exactly as they want to without fear of ending up as a tragic or unintentionally amusing character in a friend’s novel. I take bits and pieces from different people or change so much that even the people who’d been at the incident I’m describing might not recognize it (for my first novel, Party Girl, I actually went through each chapter with a lawyer who made sure of this).