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Who is that character based on, really?
kateelliott
Years ago after the publication of my second novel, a friend said to me, in a smirkingly knowing way, “You based the main character on yourself, didn’t you?”

Well, no, I hadn't.


You'll find the rest of the post Who is that character based on, really? at SFNovelists.

By the way, I've been meaning to mention that when I went tot he local bookstore last week, they had three of your titles available. My local bookstore is Page One, on the fourth floor of Taipei 101.


Maybe published authors get blase to having their works on sale all over the world, but I still think it's pretty cool :-)

I never get blase! Thanks. That is so cool!

I don't generally base characters on anyone in specific, although I do, on occasion, grab bits and pieces from people I know (Barbara McGrath in The Stone War is physically similar to our next door neighbor when I was a teenager, but her character is very different, and character is ultimately what interests me... And none of my protagoni are based on me. Except, I suppose, that they all are me, in the sense that while the conditions and history of their lives may be very different (I took up sword work in order to find out what a swordsperson would need to know, and fell in love with it), when it comes to writing their reactions to situations, I suppose that the only thing I can draw on is myself. If I were this person and that happened to me...I would. I don't know any other way to do it, at least without making the characters move like puppets rather than people.

And of course, I still want to be Sarah Tolerance when I grow up, but I don't know that that's ever going to happen. At least I get to have indoor plumbing and antibiotics.

I never use real people as characters, but the psychological drivers tend to come out of observing how people behave in certain real-world circumstances.

For me at least, I think there's a sliver of me in any character I write simply because if you see them for more than just a flicker of time, they're more than just window dressing, then you have to get inside of them for a little while, find out why they're turning right instead of left. But based on myself, or anyone else? With the exception of my first fantasy short that I intend to seriously tweak before I dare send it off (based one character loosely on a former supervisor, another loosely on a now-former TV reporter, both of which were at my previous TV job, hence the reason for the needing of tweaking), I've not based a character on myself or any one person.

Inspired by others, now that's a whole other story. Often I'll cast characters in my head, who would I want to have play them if this work was a show, play, movie. The character will then have a look that this actor or actress has/has had, but will not look like that actor or actress - I'm not writing real person fiction, after all. But it helps me picture the character in my head more clearly and helps me describe them when and where needed, which is one of my weak points, describing what a person looks like. I'm much better at describing what the person is like and why they are like that, than doing a physical description of them.

Sometimes it's the sound of someone's voice that will inspire something about a character for me, how that voice would make other characters feel in certain situations. Sometimes it's seeing another person's nervous tic, or the way they hold their glass of sweet iced tea - just some little thing that for me becomes a foundation stone for a character. Sometimes the way a group behaves inspires something about a single character - I'm unpredictable like that, because I never know what it is that will give me an, "Ah-ha!" moment for a character or group. So inspired by, yes, but based on, no. Closest I'm currently coming to a "based on" scenario is a couple of characters in one novel who have been strongly inspired by the giving hearts of some friends of mine, and those characters will be my way of saying thank you to those friends in a way only they will recognize.

Of course, readers and others will sometimes think otherwise and there's not a lot you can do about that, other than politely say, "No, the pistol-packing grandmother with lonely lovers and a dead werewolf in her wake is not based on you."

{Looks at that last bit} Oh great, I think I just gave myself a plot bunny...

I think characters are not reflections of the author; they're refractions. So is everything we write. That's what makes each writer unique: personality and outlook mixed with life experience and imagination.

I think I blogged on this subject once...

Yep. Here: http://thestoneriver.blogspot.com/2007/07/mirror-mirror.html


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