Monday, July 15, 2013

Day 190 of the 365 Days of Blogging

The author, Dane F. Baylis





Let's face it, we're all tempted to take somebody, whole cloth, and inject them into a story. There are so many real characters in the world! But does that mean they'll be believable or effective as members of our cast in a fictional world?
The cruel answer is, no. Just because your character is based on a real person, maybe even yourself, doesn't automatically make them a great fit for your story. It's all too easy, because YOU are so familiar with the person whose persona you are borrowing, to leave out the kind of basic details that reveal so much about them and connects them to your readers .
The opposite can also throw you. You include every little quirk, thinking you are providing the things that are needed to "get" this character. Unfortunately, you can wind up muddying the waters with details and, even though this person is vibrant and alive in your head, they don't make sense on the page.
Another roadblock is, in keeping true to the original person, you hamper your own creativity. Every character you bring into the story must be able to move the story in some vital way. In order to do this, you must be able to swerve off track from time to time and embellish your character in imaginative and insightful ways.
You may find it helpful to look first at who the character is before you do the Frankenstein thing. Decide what their role is and then look around for models. Maybe you'll need to combine the traits of a number of real world types to arrive at the mix you need. Then forget about the real people and allow your character to be who they are in the environment you are creating. If the real world example disappears in all this, well, that's why they call this FICTION. It ain't the truth!
One other consideration is that some of the people you choose as a character's doppelganger may be really flattered. Then again, some of them may take the opposite stance. Not everyone is going to see themselves in the same way you do. My advice is, if you do base characters on the real world, keep it to yourself. If someone recognizes their double and is pleased, bask in the limelight. If they take umbrage...Well, you can try the old, "No, I really don't think that's you!", or try to take the fifth, but, just in case, be prepared for the flak., love, write.
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Dane F. Baylis

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