Our Friends, Our Foes, Our Characters


The writer’s craft includes many tools. One we seldom discuss comes to light when a friend or family member believes they notice a resemblance to themselves in a story we’ve produced. Our stories require characters. The more real the characters feel, the better the story. This realism creates people in our narratives with fully rounded characters. As we fill our tales, we consciously and unconsciously borrow from people we know in real life.

At times I am aware of people in my life that I’ve used to bring a character to life. I notice similarities between an older male in my writing, and my father. The nosy acquittance of the hero seems remarkably like my next door neighbor. It is inherent in the writing craft, we must borrow from those around us. Khalid Hosseini, author of The Kite Runner wrote, “Writing is an act of thievery, you adapt experiences and anecdotes for your own purposes.” In order to lend believability and real motivations to characters, we steal personalities we know.

A writer friend, Veronica Smith, used my name in a short story. She gave the character my name, using my age and physical features in the story. Another author, J. S, Frankel,  threatened to write me into a story, then kill me off, after we disagreed over movies we liked. Author Stephanie Barr, says it all, “Every exchange, every snarky bus driver, every quirky friend, every frustrated fellow and misunderstood confidante can find their way into your work–often changed so that no one would identify them, different experiences or bullies, different challenges or witticisms, but that spark can be channeled into your writing. And the villains in your life, the cold parents or selfish cohorts, those that stole or cheated or traumatized you, they can make it into your books, too. And, since you have the power, you can let karma have its full measure as life sometimes fails to do.”

I often graft portions of real people, living or not, into the characters I write. I hope none are offended, but it is an essential part of my craft. Even my dog, Cantiflas, finds his way into my books. My fictional dog characters are fierce and protective, if somewhat larger than my chiweenie. I will continue to write stories using the people around me as fodder. I ask for forgiveness in advance and remind family, friends, and neighbors that the depictions are made, in a spirit of creativity, without malice.

Here are links to authors mentioned: https://www.facebook.com/Veronica.Smith.Author https://www.amazon.com/Khaled-Hosseini/e/B001HCX9N0 https://www.facebook.com/JS-Frankel-AUTHOR-1458667077729037 https://www.facebook.com/stephanieebarr https://www.facebook.com/ProtectedBooks/

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