What is the legal line between reality and fiction?
Thinking about the The Morning Show featured on Apple TV, it is clear who the piece is actually about coughMattLauercough.
Let’s talk legalities. Say a person has had a deeply personal experience and wants to pen a novel on said topic, which I believe is how 95% of novels are born. How much detail on persons, places and things (specifically persons) can you get away with before the people/ characters you’re writing about are recognizable to that person and they can sue you? What are the boundaries of this? Can superfluous details be changed (hair color, location, career) or is that not enough?
The story is going to be told with fictional details, dialogue and events that aren’t factually accurate (just pieced together from emails and texts) and of course an ending that is entirely and wildly fictional. But the scenario in which the story happens is real. How far can an author go?
If you mean how far can someone go and not get sued, put down your pen.
Anyone can be sued for just about anything these days.
I think of Devin Nunes suing a parody Twitter account cow for example.
If you mean how far can you go and LOSE in a suit for libel, that's much much trickier.
You can say almost anything about a public figure (Hilary Clinton kills her pets) and be ok.
You can say almost nothing about a private person with deep pockets and a thirst for revenge.
What's going to define how far you can go is the warranties clause of your contract which will say you can not knowingly libel someone.
The Work does not contain any material that violates any right of privacy, that is libelous or that violates any personal or other right of any kind of any person or entity.
And you don't want my opinion on this because it's not my area of expertise.
You want to dig around and research what constitutes libel.
Here's a place to start: NOLO Press.
Libel is often in the ego of the beholder.