Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Characters based on real people

Tip of the Day: for more realistic characters, you might want to try people watching and picking out a few unique mannerisms or actions.

Some of you may have seen those t-shirts that read something like: "Don't make me mad, or I'll write you into my novel." But I'm actually curious, how many people do this.

A book idea I'm playing with in my head right now would feature three people I know in real life as main characters. The only problem is, I'm not sure where you draw the line on how realistic to make characters. On one hand, some people might be flattered you would incorporate them into a book, and others might not. I'd imagine there are several pros and cons.

Pro: basing a character on someone you know could make that person come to life on the page.

Con: if you are too accurate, you might loose a friend or family member in the process.

Pro: it would be easier to get the character right, because all you'd have to do is think of characteristics or even exaggerated characteristics of the person you know in real life.

Con: someone might not understand you were exaggerating his or her characteristics.

Pro: your friend or family member might actually be honored you put them in a book. Kind of like how celebrities want to be on Saturday Night Live, even if they are poked fun at.

Con: they might not.

Some of the cons would be hard to deal with. I guess that's why many authors pick and choose characteristics of people to put in their books, so it's hard for people to figure out a character might be based on them. Which I am also considering, but I still think it would make for a better book in this case if the characters were modeled almost exactly after a few people I know. Especially because I actually really like the people I'd put in the book and think other people would like them as characters as well.

How about you, would you like to find yourself on the pages of a novel?

--Emily, Miss Awaiting an Agent


DeenaML said...

Oh man, I am so thinking about this as I work on my new MG. It is SO thinly veiled who the characters are. I need to change the names after the draft is done bc although I do change characteristics, it might just be weird if certain ppl saw it. The story/plot is completely fictional, too; it's just certain sitches are based on what happened in a character's real life.

BUT -- this story and the sitches of these ppl has been calling me for some time, so I HAVE to write it. I think if I change the names, it'll be OK.....

amuse me said...

Having someone not understand how you might exaggerate their positives or negatives, if you did come real close to using a friend's personality, could be a touchy subject. Good post - something to think about. Do you talk with them beforehand or hope they don't recognize themselves (if it is negative)?