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Mom Friend Relationships

I know this is going to sound like an odd question. But I've rec'd good advice from this board before, so I am going to ask it. As crazy as it sounds, I wrote a one-act play. I've never written professionally, but I do read quite a bit, and there was this contest. And I had a great story to share about being a stay at home mom. I actually started writing before we moved, so my two closest friends from where we previously lived used to hear me talk about writing "the play" a lot. They sort of knew they would have "starring roles" in it -- but they seriously didn't think I would ever write it or finish it. Now that it is as done as it is ever going to get -- through email -- I was so excited (this week) -- that I emailed them and told them how excited I was. One of my friends is a wannabee writer, and she just wants to know in a paragraph -- what essentially happens. The other one wants the whole play because she said she suffered through listening to me talk about it and she deserves to read it. I am afraid to send it to her. There are some unflattering elements of her character (and she will know who she is), and also of her close friends. She won't see it as creative license; she'll see it as true. (Also her close friend will freak out when she sees her actual name because I didn't know this woman, and I just liked the name and her husband's name to boot.)
Do I send her a copy, and tell her it is just creativity? And please don't read it as a biography?
Do I just ignore that she is asking me for it? (She visits once a year, and I see her maybe once.)
I know it sounds silly. And the play probably won't ever see the light of day. I am just happy I actually got it done.
I'm leaning toward just putting her off until she visits in the springtime and letting her look at it then without her close friend ever seeing it. Is that mean of me?

What can I do next?

So What Happened?™

THANK YOU ALL VERY MUCH! I wasn't exactly sure what to do -- but now I am definitely changing names of real people! Also, when my friend visits she can read it under my watchful eye (with name changes)......there was nothing too awful and if I know her, she'll laugh because she has said the things I wrote --herself. But her other close friend might not -- so name changing is in order. You all kinda agreed there. And thanks to one who sent this (see below) -- I had no idea the trouble a writer could get into being creative! My eyes have been opened. Thanks again!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Augusten Burroughs has settled a libel lawsuit filed against him in connection with his memoir, Running With Scissors. The Turcottes family sued over the horrifying description of their home and conduct in the book. The author lived with the family when he was a teenager. The Turcottes sued for $2 million in damages for defamation, invasion of privacy, and emotional distress.
Burroughs and his publisher, St. Martin's Press, agree to call the work a "book" instead of "memoirs," in the author's note and to change the acknowledgments page in future editions to say that the Turcotte family's memories of events he describes "are different than my own," and expressing regret for "any unintentional harm" to them, according to Howard Cooper, an attorney for the family. He said financial terms of the settlement are confidential.


According to a statement from the family's attorneys, Burroughs' new acknowledgments note will say that the Turcottes "are each fine, decent, and hardworking people," and that the book was not intended to hurt them. The deal comes 10 months after the family said it had "mutually resolved" issues with Sony Pictures Entertainment to avoid a lawsuit over a movie based on the book. "With this settlement, together with our settlement with Sony last year, we have achieved everything we set out to accomplish when we filed suit two years ago," the family said in the statement. "We have always maintained that the book is fictionalized and defamatory. This settlement is the most powerful vindication of those sentiments that we can imagine."

Burroughs, formerly Christopher Robison, lived with the Turcottes in Northampton as a teenager. According to the lawsuit, Burroughs' entire family was in therapy with Dr. Rodolph Turcotte, a psychiatrist. In 1980, Burroughs' mother asked Turcotte to become his legal guardian so he could attend Northampton schools. His mother still cared for him, but he had a room at the Turcottes' home. Though the family in Burroughs' book is named "the Finches," the lawsuit claims they are easily identified as the Turcottes, and that Burroughs identified them in interviews.

Events in the book which the suit claimed were false include the Turcottes' condoning sexual affairs between children and adults, Turcotte's wife eating dog food and the family using an electroshock machine it stored under the stairs. The lawsuit claims the book also falsely portrays a home in unbelievable squalor, with a young child running around naked and defecating, and old turkey being stored in the showers.
The Turcottes and Mr. Burroughs appear to have quite differing recollections as to what teh Turcotte home was like. Clearly, the author exaggerated quite a bit about the living conditions. We wonder how much he had to pay them to settle the la

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I would wait until you see her so you can be there when she reads it. Tell her you want to hear her comments immediately so you want to wait until you see her.

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During college I wrote a short story about a very tortured relationship based loosely on the breakup of my then boyfriend and his ex-girlfriend (which he was still distraught over.) The "story" was my way of dealing with the fact that he was still in love with her and to give myself answers regarding the demise of their relationship since he only disclosed bits and pieces of it. I chose to share the story with him after my professor gave me an A and said I had a lot of talent for writing about raw emotion. Now, I used A LOT of poetic license because I actually knew very little about the real reason they broke up. I know that she got pregnant and had an abortion and then they broke up. I created the rest. He was livid. The story (and the fact that he was still carrying a major torch for the ex led to our breakup.) My suggestion would be to do exactly what your intuition is telling you to do -- put her off. By the time she visits, hopefully she'll have forgotten. If she hasn't forgotten, I'd make a dummy copy and change the names and identifying details -- honestly. As writers, of course we draw from what we know -- it's human nature. Friends don't often understand that though and it can lead to really hurt feelings and damaged relationships. Good luck and CONGRATULATIONS! What an accomplishment! Have you heard about the writers conference this weekend on Sanibel? It might be a great place for you to have your play read by a pro. :)

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I say let her read the play, explain to her ahead of time not to read to much into the story, ask her to understand that it is only a play and it is nothing that should harm your friendship. Hopefully depending on what you wrote it should not be damaging. If she is a good sport she will understand.

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Hi T O-- :) I would definitely not show your friend(s) the play the way it is. Even though you were just drawing from personal experience, which all writers do, your friend is sure to have her feelings hurt. It's just not worth it. Do you think you can get away with putting her off? Maybe you could say that you feel really shy about other people reading your work, or you've been reviewing it and you think it needs some revisions? Whatever it takes, I would put her off, and if push comes to shove and somehow you have no choice but to show her, I would give her a different version. I know that seems like a lot of work, but maybe you could just cut and paste some stuff to get rid of the unflattering elements. And I would change the real name, in case your play gets published and this person sees it. She could get offended and try to sue you for libel. I know that sounds dramatic, but if her feelings are hurt and she's embarrassed about it, she could try to claim defamation of character. (I don't really know much about these legal terms, so I could be way off, but I think the woman could have some kind of legal recourse if you use her real name.) But I am so impressed that you finished your play, and I'd love to read it! :)

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Why ruin a great friendship?!! Even if you tell her it's creative writing and not a biography,I think you will hurt her feelings. If you have to show it to her when she comes have an edited copy handy! Friends should be cherished!

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I would say get the play copyrighted and put her off by telling her it is going to be copyrighted first and until she gets there and show it to her in print rather than over email. If it is a good play, you never know what could happen. Just for protection, IMHO.


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I agree with Elizabeth. Any unflattering elements of your friends' character will most likely only be magnified in their minds. It's human nature to focus on the negative things we hear about ourselves rather than focusing on what is good- especially if they have low self-esteem to start. There is no way getting around, "I was being creative" - especially if they can identify.
Good luck with your book. Congratulations on your ability to stick to it!

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I would change the names completely on the copy you send her!! There is a button called find and replace on word... which would work like magic in this situation and if she asks... say you spun it differently last minute

Have you seen "The Best Man" I recommend it... Has similar situation you are talking about and you can see what the possible reactions are and would be for your situation...

Patent or Publish your story before you send to any potential writers...

Good Luck...

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i think you need to take out the parts that make your friends look bad - did you tell them, when you talked about writing it, that there might be bad parts with them in it? if they are prepared to read these parts, then you could leave them in, or tell them about them before you let them read it. and say "remember this situation, it wasn't good, and i know it's been resolved, but i thought it was important for the idea of the story." and you definitely need to change the names of her friends husband and wife, especially if they look bad in it too. you are just setting yourself up to have no friends if relate to any character in the story. there are millions of stories and movies out there where this always happens and it never turns out good. i would just tell your friends your dog ate it and put it in your nightstand if you don't want anyone else to read it. your apprehension to show them should be your answer - change it or trash it.

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You kinda dug a hole on this one.. No worries, I do the same things. Tough call. Put it off if you can, but if they insist.. send it and explain it's not biographical. every story needs a "villian" so to speak and you were playing off of that need. Ect.

Good luck!


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As long as you mostly have email contact with her, ignore her request for the entire play and send her a paragraph describing it. When she comes to visit, pretend you misplaced it and say you'll email it to her once she returns home (then don't follow through).If you speak with her on the phone very infrequently, agree to email it to her and then just keep "forgetting" to get around to it. If you speak more often on the phone, enter the Witness Protection Program, change your name, and leave no forwarding address. Oh, and go ahead and copy and paste it here on mamasource for us to see- we promise not to forward it to her! hahahaha

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Hi T O.

You really got yourself into a good dilemma!

I don't know if you have ever seen the movie, The Best Man, with Morris Chestnut, Nia Long and Terrence Howard, just to name a few...the main character does the same exact thing. He publishes a book, and attempts to be inconspicuous but the stories enclosed are all about his friends and their women, and even some trysts he's had with these women, but all of his friends (and their women) purchase the book and KNOW whose who in the novel despite it being "creative writing".

But you also explained that earlier that you told these women your plans, and they did not dispute you when you told them of your "vision". Its easy to be ok with something when it is a "vision" when it becomes "reality" people often times feel they have been betrayed or caught off guard...even though you told them openly of your plans.

How would you feel if you were in their shoes? What if a friend showed you a work of art, and told you it was a portrait of you. You look at the portrait and feel that it looked like you, but a fatter, uglier exaggerated version of you. Would you be happy? It is art, but it would still offend you wouldn't it?

I think it would be wise to keep something like this to yourself, to avoid damaging these friendships you have formed. Just think twice next time if you have some creative pursuits that involve the exploitation of friends.

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Well, I can understand. I used to write and everything I wrote was very personal. If you need an excuse for waiting for her to see it then tell her that you really want to see her face when she reads it.

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I would wait until you see her so you can be there when she reads it. Tell her you want to hear her comments immediately so you want to wait until you see her.

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If it were me, I would send her a portion of it, just a paragraph or two. Let her know you prefer not to send the rest of it just now, at least over the internet since you don't want any hackers to plagerize it. Broach the subject of the unflattering remarks ahead of time and let her know that it was just your creative side writing.

I would really considering changing the other person's name. If you really like the name, use it for another character, not the real person. I'm not sure if they really could, but they may be able to charge you with liable if you say anything unflattering about them and use their real name. Just a suggestion.

I think it is wonderful that you have accomplished something you really wanted to do. Whether you ever get it published and we see it up on stage or not, you have done what you set out to do and that is awesome! Good luck!


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