For some people, publishing their story is a complex task that risks the possibility of litigation – sometimes from the source of distress that has been life-changing. For victims of domestic violence, for example, telling their story, in the absence of a conviction, not only risks said litigation, but the wrath of their abuser. Not that I would ever dissuade anybody from telling their story, their truth; but in the wake of what has in many cases been years of appalling mistreatment, people can be understandably reluctant to reveal exactly what happened to them, and by whose hand.
In such circumstances, many opt for a fictionalised version of their story. This doesn’t mean that authors have to entirely reinvent the events that occurred. The essence of what went on can be retained, and even morph into something uglier (though some experiences are so horrendous that they couldn’t get much worse); or understated somewhat, should a less traumatic narrative be favoured.
Characters’ identities can be written in such a manner that protects the vulnerable, while obscuring the appearances and traits of those responsible for the distress caused. Names should, of course, be changed, and the locations in which real events took place can, and probably should be, swapped for alternative sites.
As for the story itself, its core emotional message can be preserved, for it is this that we as humans often heavily relate. A client of mine wanted to retain as much of her story as possible, without her exposing herself or her loved ones, so we created a structure that enabled us to replicate much of its spine; though the body we carefully and respectfully crafted, and transplanted onto it, was, in places, wholly different to that which would have been written in the case of a memoir.
By the time the resulting manuscript was finished, she told me the story on its pages felt very much like hers, yet looked a lot different; enabling her to offer it up to the world without fear of recriminations … and at least partially unburden herself of a weight that had prevented her from truly moving on with her life.
So, if you have a story to tell, but feel that you can’t risk divulging your own and others’ identities, and sensitive material you don’t feel comfortable about sharing, then consider dressing it up a different way. Many people rightly wish to tell their stories exactly as they played out, for which I salute their bravery; but not everybody has the confidence, or freedom, to do that. For anybody finding themselves in that position, take solace in the fact that if you really want to get your story written, you can. It might not look quite how you’d originally envisaged, but it can convey a powerful message that manifold others will be able to relate to. And if you can’t write it yourself for whatever reason, consider a visit to our profiles at United Ghostwriters, where you’ll find a variety of seasoned professionals who’ll be able to advise as to how best you might wish to present your story.