Sure, in the writer’s mind, everyone’s fair game for material. But just like run-ins with the law, all suspects—even those popping up in your fiction and memoirs—deserve a fair reading of their rights. So stash these Miranda Rights for Writers’ Subjects in your pocket for the next family reunion where Uncle Bo’s poor table manners generate enough material for a memoir or two. As WD forum member Cindy Adams (aka “Gooblink”) warned before posting the following manifesto online, everything you say can—and will—be used.
1. You have the right to remain silent and refuse to answer questions. Do you understand that I will make stuff up, with or without your input?
2. Anything you do say may be used in my next project. Do you understand that my opinion of you will affect how others perceive you?
3. You have the right to consult an attorney … now or in the future. Do you understand that if you seek legal action you will be, in effect, admitting you’re guilty of the actions and/or behavior of said character?
4. If you can’t afford an attorney, tough. Do you understand that I’m counting on it?
5. If you decide to answer questions, or otherwise continue our relationship, you’ll still have the right to stop answering questions at any time. Do you understand that I’ll still make stuff up?
6. Knowing and understanding your rights as I have explained them to you, are you still willing to be my friend?