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Based on a True Story

22 December 2010

I was speaking to a friend the other day (in that scary “real-world” place I occasionally find myself in when I venture away from the computer in search of snacks), and we got into a conversation about the upcoming book. I’m sure the topic came up organically, as in the dramatic re-enactment that follows:

Him: So, did you see Walking Dead this season?

Me: I have a book coming out, you know.

Him: Yeah, you told me. So, what do you think about Walking Dead?

Me: January 17th.

Him: What?

Me: That’s when my book is coming out. January 17th.

Him: Oh, yeah. That’s. . . awesome. So, I’m guessing you didn’t see Walking Dead yet. Um. . . that’s my sandwich. Please stop eating it.

Me: What an excellent question! Where do I get the inspiration for my characters?

Him: Get out.

I kid, of course. He didn’t see me steal his sandwich. I’m like a sandwich ninja, yo.

And he did ask me if I base the characters on people I know. And for that, I have to answer “kinda.” I like to think I make them up out of my own head, but I know that’s really not the case. Those interactions I have out in the scary real world with real awesome people are sure to influence character traits in the fictional worlds I prefer to live in. Sometimes, it’ll be a name I borrow from real life — one of my oldest friends’ first and middle names are Christopher Lee. He was named after the actor. His parents are also cool.

Sometimes it’ll be a personality quirk — I know someone who only ever learned to cook Chinese food, like Travis only ever learned how to cook Vietnamese food in 200 Days (and they’re both middle-class white guys).

And sometimes, I’ll co-opt huge pieces of my own personality and sprinkle them out among the characters like so much personality-dust.

What about you, friends? Do you base your characters on people you know? And to what degree?

Are you also a sandwich ninja?

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4 Comments leave one →
  1. BillM permalink
    22 December 2010 0820

    I make too much noise to be any type of Ninja.
    I do enjoy my sammitches, though!
    Am I in the book? Or any of the old SEMC gang? I will look for practical jokers!

  2. 22 December 2010 0823

    depends on the series I am working on. One series is ALL about people i know in real life, others have liberal doses of mix and match personality traits. Then again, where do you think the “write what you know” adage comes in??

  3. 22 December 2010 1100

    I try and base one character on two or more people I know; I mix up both people’s characterisitics or take some from each to make one character. That, or I take one of my friends and amplify one of his/her traits.

    And no, I’m not a sandwich ninja. 😦

  4. Nate permalink
    22 December 2010 1258

    I like to base characters on people I know occasionally. I’m also deathly afraid of my characters turning into the dreaded “Mary Sue,” which leads to me consciously writing or envisioning characters that are the antithesis of me.

    Sometimes that’s kind of hard.

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