Tag Archives: characterisation

Writing – Using Real People in Fiction Can Spell Trouble!

Victorian Lady Portrait

Victorian Lady Portrait (Photo credit: Aminimanda)

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!

 

 

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Inspiration and Us – How Do We Find Our Characters?

As we all know, characters are one of the most fundamental parts of fiction.  This is why we fall in love with a certain series – we are intrigued by the characters.  So where do we conjure up these story people who readers always want to know more about?  I have different methods but in this post I want to demonstrate how sometimes they simply find us.

I had to take my son, Will to rehearsals yesterday for a production he is appearing in next week.  Unfortunately, we had all had the sickness bug and I still felt as if I was on a sailing boat in high winds.  So the thought of hanging around for two hours was not an attractive proposition.  It then occurred to me that I might feel better in the glorious scenery and fresh air of the country park.  What could be more relaxing and uplifting than being surrounded by greenery whilst watching swans floating regally on the lake?

To take away the nausea, I stared at the swans gliding towards me, took deep breaths and imagined medieval music playing in the background.  I was starting to lose my physical discomfort when bounding out of the bushes was a man dressed head to foot in combat gear wielding a weapon.  For a split second, I thought he was after my handbag.  It was a truly uncomfortable moment as there was no-one else around and we were quite a way off from sanctuary.

He rushed past me as if we were in a war zone and he was trying to escape.  I have to tell you at this point that this is a rural, leafy backwater where you have to say hello to every stranger who walks past with their dog.  As I focussed upon him properly, I realised that it wasn’t a weapon he was wielding but one of those huge, phallic type cameras.  He was taking photos of the swans.  I made a quick exit and headed for the visitor centre thinking I would sit inside on one of the benches and gaze at the ducks outside through the walls of glass.

Pair of Wood Ducks

Pair of Wood Ducks (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

After popping yet another boiled sweet into my mouth to take away the nausea, I gazed at a couple of sleeping ducks and suffered envy – true, green, poisonous jealousy.    The jealousy was just on the point of going as I decided I didn’t really want to be a sleeping duck when he appeared again.  He was there aiming his huge camera at the ducks with the aggression and intensity of a hunter.  His camera truly was his rifle.  The ducks looked as if an earthquake at the side of them wouldn’t awaken them, yet he was there breathing heavily ready for action.  It was at this point that his name came to me – he was obviously called Theophile Twitcher.  The ducks slept, he waited and I watched.

After about ten minutes of inactivity, Twitcher heard a noise behind him and he turned around aiming his lethal weapon slowly, like the police do on the television when they rush into a building and don’t know who is hiding there.  Unfortunately, for him, another male duck approached the sleeping duck couple and a duck spat broke out.  Twitcher was too busy searching for lions or bears or whatever with his gun, I mean camera.  He then stalked off.

After popping another boiled sweet into my mouth, I noticed him strutting off into the distance.  I could see a huge, bulging rucksack on his back as he covered every movement and sound with his camera.  He was dressed and equipped as if he was miles away from civilisation.  At this point ,I did wonder if he realised he was in a country park in England.  No doubt, I will never find out but what I did find was a character for my next Will Blyton book.  The seed had been planted, over the next weeks and months this man will turn into a fully formed story person with a back story, personality and problems. I think the children will love him and I’m really looking forward to meeting him.  Have you had any similar experiences?

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