Careful, or You'll End Up in My Novel


This post stems from a conversation with two friends, Beta and Shar-Shar.

I was, as usual, updating them on the progress of Le Novel. They're not very good blog readers, my friends. Anyway, I was telling Beta about some of the new elements in the book since she read the finished second draft. She seemed satisfied that I was following her advice lol.

I told them how the antagonist, Mrs. Hamilton, is sort of based on several managers at work who get on my nerves. But actually, that's not entirely true. She is really based--in fact, her name comes from--this awful science teacher I had in junior high who didn't really teach, had arbitrary rules, and then made me stand in front of the class for three days presenting a science fair experiment, by the end of which I was in tears.

It's okay; I'm over it. (She says gleefully).

I used to frequently put in characters who were based on real people into my stuff. Every fanfic I wrote had friends written into it. Book the First has my college roommate and her college boyfriend in it, pretty much. Last Request had all original characters. And while the root idea of Inheritance is basically "what if me and Neese (my childhood best friend) were transported back into Jane Austen's time? What would our lives be like?" it has traveled so far away from the original "what if?" that I can't say that Alexandra and Madeline are based on us anymore.

That is, I don't base my characters on people I know or have known consciously anymore. I'm sure someone could read and find a turn of phrase or an action that clearly came from my real life. Writers are magpies. We store everything and use it when the story or characters require it.

I used to (and still have) a problem with my leading male characters. Because when you've written lots of fanfiction based on your current unattainable crush--that's the way I, a girl, have trained myself to write male characters. I'm genuinely trying to get out of that habit, if only because my Google stalking obsessions change so quickly that in the middle of writing a male character, he could have a total personality change.

But Miles, at least, is pretty stubborn in his way, so he has stayed himself.

But in the WIP--other than Mrs. Hamilton and a very minor character who I stole a characteristic of from an evil customer I encountered at work, there's nobody in there that I can say "Be Careful Or You'll End Up in My Novel" about. And that's a relief, actually, because in college I neurotically worried over whether I was capable of writing original characters at all.


  1. I often end up with stray characteristics now and then, especially in the YA stories. It really adds dimensionality to side characters. I meet few interesting people at work, but I do currently have one random person I want to base a character off of one day. :)

    I had a really bad science teacher in the 8th grade. He would so make it in a book if I wrote comedy. Awful man. Lol!

    1. There must be something with bad science teachers.

      One of my friends was like, "You need to give me an annotated version of which character is based on who." And I'm like, "It's only the one!" Non-writer friends don't get it sometimes.

  2. I based two witches in my novel on a pair of odd twins I once saw in a newspaper article. They were so unusual I simply had to use them.

    1. Cool! So your witches are twins, too? What was it about them that struck you?


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