Can I be in your book – is probably the most irritating question anyone can ask me.
I would like to tell them that they already are. That everyday life for a writer is taking pieces of everything that goes on around them twisted and placed into words that work well on paper. I want to tell them that each character may have something that was said to me, or a description that I thought of when wanting to describe a characters appearance that I stole from those I know. I don’t tell them this – and if I do they normally reply with something like:
“Oh, so that character is me?”
No! That character isn’t you. That character has said something you said that I found worked well for the situation. That character has your nose because I liked your nose. They aren’t you. They are their own person with pieces taken from others I know.
If that doesn’t shut the person up they usually continue the questioning with:
“Then can you make me a character in your book?”
No! Don’t get me wrong, you are a wonderful person that I keep in my life for many reasons – but creating a character of you isn’t one. A character I need to know intimately. I must know their worst fears, their deepest desires, their sensitive secrets. I cannot create a character of you without knowing every little thing that makes you you… and that honestly isn’t what I want to do.
I create characters because they aren’t real. I create characters because if they do something wrong there isn’t a real person who will get upset. My characters aren’t always going to be safe, happy, friendly, paragons. If I was to make a real person a character there is a very large chance I will make that character do something so horrendous that that real person will get offended, angry, or upset. I could try to explain to them that this character of them isn’t really them but they would likely say something like:
“You believe I could/would actually do ________?”
Maybe? Maybe you would do those horrible things because I do not know your thought. Maybe you would do those horrible things because I am writing a story.
If I create a character based in reality my story is no longer my creation. My every move would be judged and scrutinized by the people I’m using.
So, NO, I will not make a character of you. No, I will not put you in my book.
This is my creative choice… so please try and respect that…
… Rant over…