Thursday 16 October 2014

A True Story About Your Ex Would Make a Great Book

The situation: re-reading series of angry diary entries; researching defamation online.

You feel: excitement; concern.

Your ex was a slugwaffle. Whilst recovering from the onslaught of slime that inevitably comes with a slugwaffle, you organised your thoughts by putting his actions down on paper in a diary format. You later look back and think, ‘Actually, that would make a bloody good short story.’

The friends you showed it to say, “That’s a brilliant story. Shame it’s true.” You read it through once more – sure enough, it has everything: a beginning, a middle, an end, drama, bittersweet humour… It’s perfect. What’s more, you need to make up for the lost writing time spent recovering from the shock of finding that the bakery of life served you a slugwaffle.

Do not, whatever you do, publish the story in its original form. In a defamation case, the burden of proof is on the writer, not the person trying to sue. That means that if things happened in private and it comes down to he said, she said, you will lose. It is your responsibility to prove you’re telling the truth, not his to try to demonstrate that you’re lying. There may be witnesses, phone records even, but since the larger part of a relationship is conducted in private, there are bound to be areas you can’t prove.

Secondly, be wary of simply changing names and dates. For a person to claim defamation, as few as one other person has to recognise him or her in your writing. It can be hard to completely disguise a character based on a real person, and even if you do, a slugwaffle would have no qualms about getting a friend to lie about an identification.

A statement such as: ‘This is a work of fiction and any resemblance to real people is unintentional’ is never a bad idea but will not necessarily protect you from a lawsuit.

Even if you can defend your book in court, do you really need the hassle of being dragged through legal proceedings by a slugwaffle? Just imagine the mess!

Perhaps, at a later date, you can weave some aspects of your ex’s vile personality into a wider context. Then have a witch turn him into an inanimate restaurant chair who has to spend his life under the arses of men who don’t treat women badly, listening to them enjoy their lives.

In the meantime, rest assured that the fate of a slugwaffle is to one day be gobbled up and suitably expelled.

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