40 Days of 3 Questions – Day 22

Welcome to 40 Days of 3 Questions!

For the next few weeks, meet here every morning with a notebook or document to answer three questions about writing, about your status quo as a writer, or about the writing life. You can answer briefly and go about your day, or you can use this as a warm up exercise before your regular writing schedule. Whatever works for you, works for me.

Day 22 Questions:

  1. Are any of your characters based on real people?
  2. Why that person?
  3. What is different and alike between character and real person?

You may post answers in comments or keep your thoughts private–your choice!

And here is today’s pretty picture:

sprint club at PW
Some real people who sprint every morning–and they are all characters, too!

10 thoughts on “40 Days of 3 Questions – Day 22

  1. None of my characters are based on one specific person, but I do borrow inspiration from a variety of people when creating them. The one I always talk about is the character Harry Adams being inspired by my dad. They both have/had Alzheimer’s, both love milkshakes, and both call everyone “Sunshine.” But I’ve intentionally made Harry more likable than my dad became in his later years. The disease made him mean and no fun to be around. I want readers to WANT to spend time with Harry, so I borrowed a lot of my uncle (Dad’s brother) too. He also had Alzheimer’s but was a sweetheart right to the end.

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  2. A couple of times I’ve slid in real people almost wholesale. After my mother died (and just before my first novel came out, alas), I slid her in as Great Uncle Albert’s new lady friend at the assisted living in my Local Foods mysteries. Even then she changed – the fictional Marilyn drinks a bit of wine and texts her grandkids. Usually, like Annette, I pick and choose characteristics from real people and install them in fictional characters. It’s especially satisfying to incorporate various ways an unpleasant ex was, well, unpleasant (insulting, mean, self-centered with physical traits to match) in my villains. I was told long ago that if you use a real person in your fiction, that person might not have the freedom to go where the story needs him or her to go, so it’s best to avoid the practice.

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  3. In my current project there are no characters based on real people, but the story is based on a real event. It’s the story of a woman losing her child and being determined to find her. The woman is not me, however, I do use the emotions I had when my daughter left our home to join a group much like a cult. I put all of those feelings, or at least try, into my character who is desperately searching for her lost girl.
    I do enjoy reading books based on real people and wondering how close the author came to the truth.

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  4. I don’t think I’ve ever done a character based on a real person. The closest I’ve gotten is the protagonist in my historical WIP. Named for and inspired by my grandmother, Betty, she’s definitely a woman who knows her own mind, what she wants, and goes after it. But she’s a bit more vocal about her opinions than my grandmother was.

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  5. We can never really know what’s going on in someone’s mind, or their life to date that prompts them to act the way they do, and because of this, I don’t use real people individually, or perhaps use a person comprehensively would be a better way of saying it. In my writing, I like to get beneath a character’s outward persona, and explore their inner demons or motivations. So, rather than taking an individual as inspiration, I prefer to collect traits and actions/reactions, odd quirks of the human condition, or I take something somebody does that surprises or shocks or impresses me, then I create a fictional character around this, creating a story that gives them reason to do what they do, or act the way they do. One of my stories is actually inspired by real people and real events, but everything happened a century ago, so I only have bits of their story, and of course I didn’t know them personally. It was a long process to let them develop as fictional characters to create an actual story. For me, real life certainly inspires fiction that readers can relate to, but you have to be willing to stretch and sometimes ignore the truth for the sake of story.

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  6. I have used real people. However, they are always people I didn’t know well, often of another generation, older or younger. Because I didn’t know them well, I am free to make up thoughts, feelings and histories for them that are, of course, fiction.

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  7. Are any of your characters based on real people? The protag in the story I’ve floundered with which is currently resting is based on my former job. She is based on an employee who worked for me. In the current project, no. I thought maybe this would be easier to accomplish.
    Why that person? I picked my job because I think there is a lot to be used from that occupation. That person because she was a terrific employee, one like every manager wants to have. She moved on to a higher-paying job, did well, went home one night and never woke up.
    What is different and alike between character and real person? The character I’m trying to create is a blend of her, some of me, and a couple of others I knew who did what I did. Difference is that character is more rule bound than person was. Person was a free spirit but reined herself in in order to work in an office for more money than other jobs she’d had. They are both alike in that they are approachable and care about people.

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  8. Are any of your characters based on real people? yes.
    Why that person? He asked me to write his bio, and the protag is someone I knew. Fascinating people. Daunting request.
    What is different and alike between character and real person? He died during the third year of interviewing him, so I made it fiction. I’m creating her world from the journals she gave me, but in order to plot and create the story, I had to use my imagination.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. 1. Are any of your characters based on real people?
    Not ever entirely. There are parts of people I’ve known in a lot of my characters.
    2. Why that person?
    Sometimes I use either a first or last name from someone I’ve intensely disliked. I always make them a very bad person. Revenge that I didn’t get in real life, I think.
    3. What is different and alike between character and real person?
    The character has to fit into my plot. I don’t think I did very well with these questions!

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