All Characters are Fictitious – Yeah, Right!

Writers have to develop a thick skin. I’m not talking about negative reviews, I’m talking about friends and family reactions to your story.

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Name that character…

Is That Me???

It’s inevitable, your friends and family are going to recognize themselves in your book and have one or more of the following reactions:

  • Honored
  • Horrified
  • Pissed off like a five-ton gorilla

If you write about your family, someone will say, “I never said that” “That never happened” “Is that really what you think of me???”

You’re a fiction writer; learn to spin fiction. “Of course, that’s not you, Aunt Joanne! That’s a different stripper!” (My aunt is a stripper. She strips furniture and restores them. Her business card says in big letters, STRIPPER. OF COURSE I’m going to use her in my stories. She’s colorful!).

“That’s not you, that’s your evil brother.”

“Mom, a writer has to consolidate characters, the good stuff is you, the bad stuff is Dad’s sister.”

“Really? You see yourself in that character? How long have you had these insecurities?”

“The only thing you have in common with that character is name, hair color, physique, and temperament. The rest is made up.”

“You talk in your sleep, honey.”

All our characters have their root in someone we know. The only thing worse than someone recognizing themselves in a character is recognizing themselves in the wrong character.

My recommendation: Give your character not just a different name than the real person, give them a name the real person hates. Try a different hair color and style, maybe a fictitious physical impairment.

And always be sensitive to your friend’s and family’s reactions after your book comes out. Are they avoiding you, looking hurt, kicking your dog? Nip that in the bud. Get that person aside and ask them if so-and-so will be offended because you based that character on them. Your relationship will be restored.

Try potato water for thickening your skin[1]. Worked for me.

[1] Not really.