Using people you've met.

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Using people you've met.

Post by Guest on Thu Mar 19, 2009 9:18 am

Yesterday, my last client was a bit of an odd cod. Without going too much into detail, I got the impression that she was a delicate person. A tea cup sitting on the very edge of the table waiting for the inevitable stray elbow. Her nervousness made me nervous. It was contagious. And then later last night, I realized that she was a missing character in my story. She is the dead aunt of one of my MC's and the explanation for the rift between my MC's mother and her brother.

I'm sure if the real life person who inspired the filling-in of this missing character knew what she had just inspired, she would be quite nonplussed.

Have you ever felt that the inspiration for a character was inappropriate?

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Re: Using people you've met.

Post by NaClmine on Thu Mar 19, 2009 11:10 am

Wreybies wrote: Have you ever felt that the inspiration for a character was inappropriate?

Not at all. My manuscripts are full of characters inspired by traits that I've observed. RL is much more intriguing than fiction. Even fantasy creatures in my stories borrow characteristics from people I've known or met casually.

For example . . . in Rice Wine, (a short story that is being expanded into a full novel) the main character is a young soldier who was wounded in Vietnam. He had been raised by his father to be tough, the same way his father was raised before him by the grandfather. The role model for the demanding grandfather was my own dad; a man who never new his father and had no significant male role model while growing up. He had learned to survive alone in a hostile neighborhood and became cold, almost mean. He was very tough on me when I was growing up. I hated him for it until I experienced war. Then, the toughness he taught served me well. I also learned to appreciate his good intentions as a "dad" and realized, while he was indeed very tough on me, it was the only way he knew to show his love and prepare me for a world which he saw as threatening. We became very close after Nam.

Rice Wine took first place in a writer's contest on another forum and it has since been edited and become the first chapter in my novel by the same name. For anyone curious about Rice Wine, here is the link to the story contest:

http://www.writingforums.org/showthread.php?t=10877&highlight=rice+wine

So Wrey, as you see, the traits of anyone I've met can slip unnoticed into one or more of my characters.
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Re: Using people you've met.

Post by Mike R on Thu Mar 19, 2009 5:03 pm

I do it all the time. Rarely is the personality as a whole used, but parts, most definitely.
My daughter's odd sense of humor, my step-son's self absorbed nature, my wife's tendency to anthropomorphize every living thing to name but a few.
Anyone with an unusual, particularly defined, or quirky trait is fodder.

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Re: Using people you've met.

Post by Garmar on Fri Mar 20, 2009 12:34 am

I've only done it intentionally one time. Even then it was a mix and match of more than one person. I don't think it's inappropriate.

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Re: Using people you've met.

Post by Guest on Thu Jun 18, 2009 10:48 am

I suspect ALL of the characteristic we build into characters have to be drawn from experience, either fist hand, or stories (oral and written), with other people. Where else can they come from? The trick is to mix the characteristics to make a new person, suitable to the role planned, and then let the person do his thing. If he takes a left because that's the way he thinks, either your plot takes the same left or you need to rebuild the character.

Quite often my characters do things "the hard way" because the easy way is part of my world view, not theirs.

CS

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