The friend who is proofing my manuscript for grammar and punctuation was discussing the characters with me yesterday and it stirred a yearning in me. My two main characters are very likeable, at least I think so, and my friend liked the male character so I guess others find him likeable too. I told her that the male character had traits of my husband, and she found it interesting that I was using people I knew to pattern characters after. She had done the same thing in the book she wrote. It’s only natural, I think, to use what you know. The better you know your character, the more lifelike you make him, the more the reader will relate to the character and the story. Usually my characters have much more of their own personality. I don’t remember patterning any of my characters in high school after anyone I knew. I usually spent a good bit of time getting to know my characters before I started writing them in the story. This time I started with a plot premise and ran with it, allowing the characters to develop as I wrote. I was in a hurry, so it was even more natural, I guess, to use personality traits from people I already knew. The more I wrote, the more the main female character has my own traits. But just because I use traits from people I know doesn’t mean I’m writing a fictional account of my own life. A writer will take people they know as inspiration, but then you start asking yourself “what if” and that character begins to take on a life of his own. Unfortunately, people who don’t understand this process, if they know a character was based off of a particular person, will thing that everything about the character is exactly how that person is. There is such a thing as “creative license” folks. We writers have wild imaginations. It’s fun to take a nondescript person and turn them into something wild. Remember the addage “don’t believe everything you read”? We take inspiration from life, but don’t take what we write to be fact. This is one reason I am loathe to tell anyone that I took inspiration from this person or that person for this character.
If anyone reading this eventually gets to read my book, don’t think that the relationship between the male lead character and the female is patterned after hubby and my lives. There is a lot about the male character that is not like hubby. There is a good bit about the female character that is not like me. Later, their relationship will somewhat mirror ours, but not now, not in this book. I’m not fictionally writing an autobiography.
But my friend could picture and identify with the male character, so dipping into what I knew has proven to work. Thinking about them made me want to get back into the story, continue living their lives on the page.
Today I’ve been rewriting the first few pages because I started out in third person and then switched to first person. I’m almost done with that part. Unfortunately that means I’ll have to have my friend re-proof those pages because i didn’t just change the “she” to “I”. There were some places where I changed the wording, because when you change perspective sometimes you give more detail and make the narration more personal than what it would be from an outsider looking in. But after those first pages are changed I’ll started sending it out to a couple people for critical review.
I love the positive feedback. I’ve struggled with negative comments. Mostly because they are delivered in such a way that I feel challenged as a writer. My sister is usually good at giving negative criticism. I have a couple other friends who are too. They are friends so I know that if they are pointing out something that doesn’t work or needs revised, it isn’t a personal attack. I just wonder if I’ll get brave enough to offer it to the writer’s group I’ve been involved in. They will probably be more critical, which is probably what I need, I will just have to steel myself for it.
Well, off to finish up the first few pages!