How would you feel about being immortal-ized as a fictional character? Would you like to know about it? I saw a post the other day of the picture shown on the left and it made me laugh, because this is something I do all the time; I’ve even addressed it in a previous blog (Fiction Mirroring Life or Life Mirroring Fiction?). I believe that the best source of inspiration for any artist, is the world around them, so it is only natural that a painter would paint people they see around them or that a writer would create a character based on those around them.
If someone were to base a character on you, would you want to have some say or would you prefer to give the novelist creative license? I personally have created characters based on friends, acquaintances and even complete strangers. When writing about people you know, it can be easy to translate them true to form. The tricky part comes when you base characters on people you know next to nothing about. People that you see, but never really speak to; the cashier at the mall, the manager of your favorite coffee shop, the girl that works at the movie theater, etc… You see these people, but you don’t know them on a personal level. How much can you really know about their lives from the minimal interaction you have with them, if you even interact with them at all?
Once you base characters on them though, you start to feel like you know them. You start to feel connected to these people in a way that you never were before. Any author can attest to the fact that their characters become as real to them as their own friends and family. We grow to care about them the same way we would any important person in our lives. And that’s when the fun really starts to happen, when the lines between reality and imagination blur and you see your character walking around before your very eyes. You know deep down inside that they are not the character that you created them to be, but the very sight of them does things to you, that you can’t even explain.
There have been times, when struggling with writer’s block, that I made a point of stopping by a particular place where I knew I would run into such a person. I don’t even need to speak to them and yet, the very sight of them fills me with excitement and inspiration. But no matter how much I would like to get to know them better, the fear of shattering the illusion I have created prevents me from doing so. What would happen if the reality was nothing like the illusion? Would it be forever ruined? But then, what if the reality is even better than the illusion? Is it worth taking the chance?
|Photo Credit: kakisky (http://mrg.bz/romeat)|
How would you react if a complete stranger told you they were a novelist and based a character on you? Would you be flattered or would you be looking for the nearest exit to get away from the crazy person that you now believe has been stalking you?