Sense & Sensitivity by Harriette Cole

New Author May Have Named Too Many Names

DEAR HARRIETTE: I had a hard life growing up, but I have done well for myself. Many people suggested that I write a book about my experiences, and I decided to go for it -- and now I am finished. I decided to self-publish because it was too hard to find a publisher.

I let a couple of friends read my book for their input. One friend warned me that I had named too many names. I did tell a lot of stories from childhood that included some bad scenes with friends and neighbors. My friend thought I should not say those people’s names because it would hurt their feelings or embarrass them. They are part of my story, though, and everything is true. What do you think? -- New Author, New Brunswick, New Jersey

DEAR NEW AUTHOR: It is important for you to think about the cast of characters featured in your book. Just because something is true does not mean that it should be dredged up and revealed publicly, especially if it includes other people. Even when information is true, you should be mindful of what to share and how to share it. For the more sensitive stories, perhaps you can tell them without naming anyone. Instead, describe the scenario and either rename the people or just depict them without stating their names.

The fact that you transformed your life is wonderful. What you don’t want to do is embarrass others who may not have climbed out of their circumstances or who have moved past them and have no interest in revisiting the past.