I recently finished reading Bird by Bird by Anne Lamott.
Towards the end of the book she spends a chapter discussing libel.
Merriam Webster’s dictionary defines “libel” as:
a : a written or oral defamatory statement or representation that conveys an unjustly unfavorable impression
b (1) : a statement or representation published without just cause and tending to expose another to public contempt (2) : defamation of a person by written or representational means
Typically, the elements of a cause of action for defamation include:
- A false and defamatory statement concerning another;
- The unprivileged publication of the statement to a third party (that is, somebody other than the person defamed by the statement);
- If the defamatory matter is of public concern, fault amounting at least to negligence on the part of the publisher; and
- Damage to the plaintiff.
So who am I supposed to write my book about now?
I could do what Anne Lamott says and just change the names, characteristics, gender of the “person” (i.e. character) I’m writing about.
Or I could do what David Sedaris does and make all the characters animals in a fable. That might be interesting.