I hope that I am not alone when I say if I hear the lyrics to “Someone That I Used To Know” by Gotye one more time, I may actually attempt to stab my eyes out.
But with this said, I can’t help to think of this song as I develop the characters for my new novel. I have received great advice from veteran writers that suggest basing writing off of your own experiences is a good way to develop your characters, setting, and plot. So here is my question that perturbs me as we attempt to base characters off of people we know (or used to know).
When your family and friends read your novel, isn’t it most awkward when your sister says, “Hey Kim. That character Timothy in your novel. The one that is a drug addict? Did you create him based off of our cousin Phillip?” Or this one…..your boyfriend asks you, “Hey what sexual experience did you base that sex scene off of because it most definitely wasn’t with me.”
Ahhhhh, yes. Awkwardness.
So these are my fears about creating characters based off of people that you know. I am understanding that there is a fine line between using your own experiences and mingling fiction with fact. Or I also see switching and swapping personality traits among your “pool” of people that you know as a plausible option.
How do you choose and develop your characters? Do you base them from people that you know or completely fictionalize them or do a combination of both?