I recently finished a novel with my friend Andrew (Yes! It's the same guy who helps me out of those pesky wells I keep falling into). People say it's quite an accomplishment, but after your fifth finished novel you stop really thinking it's that great and start thinking that actual publication is the big accomplishment. Anyways, with this new novel I was able to utilize several stories from various friends and family for the book.
This got me thinking.
Everyday people are going around with all of these unused stories from their own lives. Stories that are just ripe for the picking.
I say it's about time that someone went around picking up these unused bits of novelty and put them to good use. What's funnier than something hilarious that actually happened to someone else, or at least something that you could assume was possible? Prime example: a straight guy's dating profile which leads to IMs from gay men. A true story which made its way into the book.
Clearly though, since A. J. Raffles and I believe that thievery is a gentleman's game, you must ask and get permission before using a friend or family member's personal story. While it is true that you can have the traditional disclaimer "Any resemblance to real people is mere coincidence..." at the beginning of your novel, you don't want to ruin a friendship for the chance at an interesting plot point or funny side story.