Every writer has heard it. Someone reads something you’ve written: an article, a blog, a book. And the questions start.
“Who is that character in real life? It’s me, isn’t it? And isn’t the guy with the good hair so-and-so? I didn’t know that’s the fight that ended your relationship!”
Ugh. Just ugh.
I’m sure that there are some writers out there who write for revenge. But I think that for most of us, the truth is that the majority of characteristics are just that…characteristics.
It must be unnerving being close to a writer, and knowing everything that happens is fodder for their art. When people see themselves in my writing, I always answer with this: “Are you pleased with it? You are? Well then of course it’s you! No? You don’t think you’re anything like that? Then it is obviously someone else.”
Here is how it works for me. My stories ALWAYS start out with people in my life in them. Not down to the letter, but with pretty strong characteristics. But as I write, the characters take on their own personalities. They shed their skins and grow new ones, and that is a magic moment for me. That’s when I know I’m on a roll.
My favorite example of this is a blog I wrote a year or so ago. It was a writing prompt to write a break-up letter to someone who is taking up space in your heart that shouldn’t be allowed to be there. Within a day of publishing it, I heard from three different guys from my past–all assuming it was about them.
It wasn’t about any of them.
Who was it about? I’ll never tell.
Do you write real-life people into your stories? How do you answer if someone thinks they see themselves in your writing?