Authorial license. I claim it often because it makes me seem like a big shot and why wouldn't I have a right to claim other people's stories, histories, emotions and memories as my own? I haven't scaled a mountain but why should that mean I can't pen a short story about it?
However, whether we want to admit it or not there are boundaries. I think we forget that sometimes, at least I have in the past. I often view myself as the silent voyeur, someone who's removed from the situation and is simply present to observe and take note of it. But when that situation is closely linked to your family, your friends, really anyone you know and respect, you have to decide if your license has expired.
Words hurt. People can quickly take them out of context or take them exactly the way you deliver them. Suddenly you're no longer the talented writer but the exploitative a-hole who used to have friends. It's important to take this in consideration before sending work out for contests or to publishers.
I'm not one for censoring but sometimes a little discretion goes a long way.
How do you discern between a creative piece and one that may be exploitative? Have you've ever had to deal with offending a friend or family member with something you've written?