The other day, I was telling my son about a dead relative whose personality I have partly used when creating Jane Snow, my heroine’s paid companion and fellow detective in Mulgrave Castle. My relative had a strange notion that when a man smiled at her, he had certain ideas because the chaps were too frisky for their own good. One of the theme’s I want to explore in this series of Victorian psychic novels is female desire in the Victorian era as I became very interested in how it was used in Literature whilst a student. Although, I have used Jane Snow’s attitude to males in a comic way because it was something which was both amusing and endearing in my relative, I think she might react badly if she knew that this aspect of Jane’s character is based on her. I think she might see it as being laughed at instead of understanding that it is celebrating the fact that she was such a character. Although, to be honest, I wonder if she would identify herself with the character, she might not.
The reason I say that my relative might not recognise herself is because of a story I was told when I was doing a course on scriptwriting. The writer who took the course was a playwright and a television scriptwriter. He was adamant about only using one aspect of a person’s personality when creating your own characters. The reason for this was personal experience. He had written a television drama and used a few aspects of the personality of a woman who was in his circle of friends as one of the characters; at the time of writing, he thought that he had disguised her well enough for no-one to know whom he had based the character on.
After the drama was screened, he was shocked that most of the circle of friends identified the woman whom he had used as a character. Fortunately, the woman did not recognise herself and none of the others pointed it out to her. The experience was enough to convince him though that we should never use more than one aspect of a person’s personality traits when creating a character.
On the other hand, I created the character, Will Blyton based on my son, Will and am writing a second book about him. Often, I will read a part out to him and he will call me a cheeky so and so because I am depicting a real live occurrence. He knows I am writing about a character based on him and likes the fact that he is my muse. However, if he did not, I would not do it.
So what about you? Have you ever written about someone and they have recognised themselves? Do you use aspects of real life people at all when creating characters? Do tell!
- Writing – Point of View Problems – What a Palaver! (loonyliterature.com)
- Writing – Embracing Characterisation in a haunted, Victorian Prison. (loonyliterature.com)
- Writing – Great Aunt Bertha at The Asylum. (loonyliterature.com)
- OriginalCulture: Victorian Crave (originaltitle.wordpress.com)
- What’s in a literary name? (oup.com)
- Strong female characters (ninaniskanen.com)
- Victorian Secrets: How Your Great-Great-Grandmother Got Pretty (bellasugar.com)
- My Wrap-Up for The Victorian Celebration (jillianreadsbooks2.wordpress.com)