Whether or not you believe in that old cliche “Write what you know,” most fiction writers at one time or another are led to create characters who aren’t really fictional at all, but based on someone they know or have studied. Christine Sneed (@ChristineSneed) found herself in such a situation when writing a novel about an artist. She writes:
Within two weeks, I was visiting Susan’s studio … She is very modest about her work, despite its moody brilliance, and it wasn’t hard to introduce her into the narrative of Paris, He Said … What I spent more time thinking and worrying about was how I could make Susan the fictional character compelling in ways that kept the narrative moving forward.
Sneed goes onto explain the trickiness of including a friend as a character in one of her stories, and warns that if you can’t portray someone you know personally in a positive fashion, you will probably lose this friend and/or be sued for libel. Read more about her experience in the latest Glimmer Train bulletin.
For more writing advice from Glimmer Train writers, check out:
- I Want You Bad: Can Nice People Make for Good Characters? by Lillian Li
- Narrative Arc in the Novel by Courtney Sender