AAW June–Putting people in books:

Cat 243 Doverby Mary Jo

For this month's Ask A Wench, I selected this question by Molly in Ohio from our blog topic file:

"We all know that writers frequently pull from life experiences when creating their characters. Have any of you had a friend or family member recognize themself in one of your books or stories and call you out? 🙂"

I had a strong suspicion what the consensus will be, but I thought it would be fun to hear what the various Wenches have to say.



Starting with Jo Beverley:

No, because I don't do it. It often feels that writing is magic and that my characters appear from another dimension, but I accept that they bubble up from my life experiences somehow. However, I'm not aware of drawing on people I know, or even characters on TV etc. If I felt that happening, I'd strangle it before it could progress.

GeorgiaibedHowever, I think novels can worm into the brain, because reading the best sort of book happens inside our brain, with us co-creating it there. Perhaps a bit of the Duke of Avon slid into Rothgar, and I'm aware that Dorothy Dunnett's Lymond character had a bit to do with the way Nicholas Delaney is in the Rogues books. I'm sure there are other influences.

That said, though I don't consciously use people or pictures, sometimes I find ones that fit. This is from the movie Perfume, set in the right period, and the actress was the right age — 20 — for Georgia in A Scandalous Countess.  Absolutely the spitting image! And this shows Georgia being woken up to the news that her husband's been killed in a duel.

Next up: Patricia Rice:

I cannot remember ever deliberately featuring a person I know in a book, because I like Writing_most everyone and wouldn’t want to torture anyone the way I do my characters. But with my very first book, my father decided the heroine’s parents represented him and my mother. Since the father character was essentially weak and useless and the mother was a nagging harpy, it was an insight into his psyche that I didn’t need! I’ve been killing off parental figures ever since.

I think, more than anything, I draw on situations that I read or hear about—in the news, in other novels, in history. I want to know the inside story, so I invent it. Honestly, I know it’s difficult for non-writers to understand, but these characters are in my head, talking and acting out. I just give them something to do!

One of Nicola's gorgeous heroesNow Nicola Cornick:  

This has happened to me because several family members and friends have fondly imagined that I based characters on them, especially my gorgeous heroes <g!> and asked me if it was true. Unfortunately it isn't. I've never consciously based any character wholly on someone I know.

What I have done inadvertently is use a mannerism or form of speech that's derived from a real person, a gesture here or a character trait there. These go into the mix with all the other aspects of the character as it develops and so those individual traits become part of a larger personality and it isn't possible to single them out as originating from a real person. In fact sometimes I don't realise what I have done at all and other times much later down the line I can see that thread of influence. So much goes into the creating of a character – it feels a bit like an alchemical process – that I don't think it's possible to pin down how it all comes together. Not for me, anyway.

Anne Gracie:
 
I suppose I draw on my life experiences for my writing, but not as much as people might think, and rarely is it a conscious choice. A lot of what I do involves imagining myself into the situations my characters find themselves in; imagination can take you most places, and research provides concrete details.  

As for using real life people as characters in my books, I've never done it and would Raoul Bova, Italian actor--Inspiration for Annenever try to. I think trying to fit a real person into an imaginary story would interfere with the character coming to life. They need to be free to become who they are, if that makes sense. I've included the odd famous person, such as the Duke of Wellington, in a book, but only as a walk-on character, not a main character.

I have occasionally pinched an interesting physical feature or mannerism from a real person, but that's as far as it goes, and it's usually someone I don't know well. And in my story collages, I use photos or portraits of real people, but I choose the photos more for the emotion they evoke — sadness, or vulnerability, or intensity for instance — than for the appearance or personality of the actor.

What I have done, just for fun, is to name an occasional minor character after friends Anne's Young Freddywho I know will read the book— and whose names fit. So I referred to the Countess of Morey in a book once, because I knew my friend Trish Morey and her daughter would read the book and get a kick out of it.

As an example of the kind of image I use for inspiration, here's a portrait that I imagined was my hero Freddy as a youth – only with different colored hair)

Cara/Andrea:

Echoing the other Wenches, I don’t create characters based real people. The nuances of character, motivation and conflict come from the story, and as that develops in my head (yes, I’m a total pantser, so I don’t always know exactly where it’s going!) the people involved evolve too. That said, I gather inspiration for all sorts of elements from real life—the houses, the carriages, the clothing, a unique artifact or piece of art that might become important in the plot. So of course snippets of personalities can show up in my books too. The point is, we write about life, so our actual experiences get processed inside our quirky little brains and . . . well, it all gets shaken up and mixed around, like a potent punch, and then served up to our readers! Each of us comes up with a unique concoction that really has no formal recipe. Quite frankly, it’s more fun that way!

From Susan King:

 Some writers may base characters on friends or family members, but I've never Eyesborrowed a group of specifics for a recognizably derivative character. I have borrowed an interesting quirk or two, a physical characteristic, a quality, an ability — but creating a character is not the same as painting a portrait. Copying a real person's characteristics in a story character just seems like a lot of work to me, unless that book is about that person.

There's an old cliche that writers can gain revenge on someone by writing their evil-arse into a book, but I'll bet it's very rarely been done. It wouldn't ring true — characters are grown from a combination of elements real and imagined, in an organic way, woven from bits and traits and details observed and collected from many sources, and blended with all the made-up stuff that keeps a writer happiest and most creative.

I've drawn interests, tendencies — a healer, a warrior, a rebel, a nurturer — from those Catherine Zeta JonesI know and admire, and I've used some physical characteristics, but more often the model is from a movie, a photo, even a historical painting. I might tap a habit of speech, the slant of a smile, eye color — but it's always complementary and used to enhance the story-person. The best characters are wonderful pastiches of what the writer knows, finds fascinating in people, and/or simply completely imagines — elements all blended together into a unique character who exists very comfortably within the integrity of the story.    

Joanna Bourne:

I'm very much a 'One from column A and One from Column B'  kinda person. I figure we make our characters of 50 Legos. If we have more time and space and plot and words, we put the fictional folks together with 200 Legos and they are deeper and more complicated and more real and self-contradictory.

So I'll take a gesture I've seen on TV and a skill somebody has in a book and a philosophic Stonepath3outlook of my very very own and the body type of a friend of mine and a dialect and cadence I've been listening to all over the web and that's some of my character. There's action the plot calls for so I load my guy or gal up with motives and tendencies that make that action plausible . . . and all that needs backstory to account for it so I come up with that.

The person I've created from all these bits and bobs fits neatly into the spot in the story where I need him. My friends and the people I know well — not so much.

Here's a different angle on the subject from our intrepid webmistress and cat wrangler, Sherrie Holmes:

Ha ha! I’ve never had anyone recognize themselves in any of my stories, but I’ve had a lot of friends recognize me in someone else’s book. <g> It’s quite funny, because the author (a long time friend of mine) has absolutely no idea she did it and would deny it if asked. It was, I’m sure, purely unconscious. However, everyone in my writer’s group, plus several others who have read the book and know I’m the author’s friend, have all pointed it out to me. That many people can’t be wrong. Thankfully, the book’s character and I both have a sense of humor. 🙂

Ravenna mosaicFrom Mary Jo:  

I'm not going to add to what has been said so ably above: though writers might take quirks and bits from real life, like a mosaic, ultimately our characters are just about always spun from our creative imaginations.  

But I will add an old writer's joke that Jo Beverley mentioned since it's relevant here:  If you're basing a villain on some man you know, give the villain a tiny penis and the man will never claim it's him. <G> (I suspect that women find this funnier than men do.)

So that's the inside scoop on whether or not Wenches base characters on real people!  Molly, you get a free copy of one of my books, including an ARC of my September book, A Not Quite a Wife, if you so desirechoose!  

Mary Jo

115 thoughts on “AAW June–Putting people in books:”

  1. There must be a real temptation to get revenge on people by making them villains in books!
    There was a book recently where the doctor hero was based on the main character from the House TV show. I haven’t read it, but as I find that man extremely unattractive and not especially likeable, I don’t think I want to!
    I don’t like it when characters are based on celebrities (even if just their looks). I don’t like it when people ‘fantasy cast’ movie stars as the heroes and heroines (and include pictures of them in their reviews!).
    We all have a very different idea of what’s attractive, and I don’t need an image of Mark Harmon in my head when I’m trying to picture some dashing English duke!

    Reply
  2. There must be a real temptation to get revenge on people by making them villains in books!
    There was a book recently where the doctor hero was based on the main character from the House TV show. I haven’t read it, but as I find that man extremely unattractive and not especially likeable, I don’t think I want to!
    I don’t like it when characters are based on celebrities (even if just their looks). I don’t like it when people ‘fantasy cast’ movie stars as the heroes and heroines (and include pictures of them in their reviews!).
    We all have a very different idea of what’s attractive, and I don’t need an image of Mark Harmon in my head when I’m trying to picture some dashing English duke!

    Reply
  3. There must be a real temptation to get revenge on people by making them villains in books!
    There was a book recently where the doctor hero was based on the main character from the House TV show. I haven’t read it, but as I find that man extremely unattractive and not especially likeable, I don’t think I want to!
    I don’t like it when characters are based on celebrities (even if just their looks). I don’t like it when people ‘fantasy cast’ movie stars as the heroes and heroines (and include pictures of them in their reviews!).
    We all have a very different idea of what’s attractive, and I don’t need an image of Mark Harmon in my head when I’m trying to picture some dashing English duke!

    Reply
  4. There must be a real temptation to get revenge on people by making them villains in books!
    There was a book recently where the doctor hero was based on the main character from the House TV show. I haven’t read it, but as I find that man extremely unattractive and not especially likeable, I don’t think I want to!
    I don’t like it when characters are based on celebrities (even if just their looks). I don’t like it when people ‘fantasy cast’ movie stars as the heroes and heroines (and include pictures of them in their reviews!).
    We all have a very different idea of what’s attractive, and I don’t need an image of Mark Harmon in my head when I’m trying to picture some dashing English duke!

    Reply
  5. There must be a real temptation to get revenge on people by making them villains in books!
    There was a book recently where the doctor hero was based on the main character from the House TV show. I haven’t read it, but as I find that man extremely unattractive and not especially likeable, I don’t think I want to!
    I don’t like it when characters are based on celebrities (even if just their looks). I don’t like it when people ‘fantasy cast’ movie stars as the heroes and heroines (and include pictures of them in their reviews!).
    We all have a very different idea of what’s attractive, and I don’t need an image of Mark Harmon in my head when I’m trying to picture some dashing English duke!

    Reply
  6. Just curious–when you use an animal character have you ever based it on one of your own pets? The cats who appear in my novels almost always have the appearance and traits of real individuals. The people? Not so much.
    Kathy/Kaitlyn

    Reply
  7. Just curious–when you use an animal character have you ever based it on one of your own pets? The cats who appear in my novels almost always have the appearance and traits of real individuals. The people? Not so much.
    Kathy/Kaitlyn

    Reply
  8. Just curious–when you use an animal character have you ever based it on one of your own pets? The cats who appear in my novels almost always have the appearance and traits of real individuals. The people? Not so much.
    Kathy/Kaitlyn

    Reply
  9. Just curious–when you use an animal character have you ever based it on one of your own pets? The cats who appear in my novels almost always have the appearance and traits of real individuals. The people? Not so much.
    Kathy/Kaitlyn

    Reply
  10. Just curious–when you use an animal character have you ever based it on one of your own pets? The cats who appear in my novels almost always have the appearance and traits of real individuals. The people? Not so much.
    Kathy/Kaitlyn

    Reply
  11. Jo, I think Rothgar is more like Lymond than Nicholas Delaney. He’s so tortured, especially with the “I love you but won’t/can’t marry you” theme.

    Reply
  12. Jo, I think Rothgar is more like Lymond than Nicholas Delaney. He’s so tortured, especially with the “I love you but won’t/can’t marry you” theme.

    Reply
  13. Jo, I think Rothgar is more like Lymond than Nicholas Delaney. He’s so tortured, especially with the “I love you but won’t/can’t marry you” theme.

    Reply
  14. Jo, I think Rothgar is more like Lymond than Nicholas Delaney. He’s so tortured, especially with the “I love you but won’t/can’t marry you” theme.

    Reply
  15. Jo, I think Rothgar is more like Lymond than Nicholas Delaney. He’s so tortured, especially with the “I love you but won’t/can’t marry you” theme.

    Reply
  16. Excellent comments – Liked Mary Jo’s about small penises and Joanna’s 50 Legos analogy. I do use locations and actual houses of family and friends, but not the people. However, quirks and visuals noted out a bus window have been know to make their way into my characters.

    Reply
  17. Excellent comments – Liked Mary Jo’s about small penises and Joanna’s 50 Legos analogy. I do use locations and actual houses of family and friends, but not the people. However, quirks and visuals noted out a bus window have been know to make their way into my characters.

    Reply
  18. Excellent comments – Liked Mary Jo’s about small penises and Joanna’s 50 Legos analogy. I do use locations and actual houses of family and friends, but not the people. However, quirks and visuals noted out a bus window have been know to make their way into my characters.

    Reply
  19. Excellent comments – Liked Mary Jo’s about small penises and Joanna’s 50 Legos analogy. I do use locations and actual houses of family and friends, but not the people. However, quirks and visuals noted out a bus window have been know to make their way into my characters.

    Reply
  20. Excellent comments – Liked Mary Jo’s about small penises and Joanna’s 50 Legos analogy. I do use locations and actual houses of family and friends, but not the people. However, quirks and visuals noted out a bus window have been know to make their way into my characters.

    Reply
  21. That’s interesting, Kathy Lynn. I’ve definitely based dogs on my own and the dog in my current wip is modelled on a friend’s golden retriever, right down to having the same name!

    Reply
  22. That’s interesting, Kathy Lynn. I’ve definitely based dogs on my own and the dog in my current wip is modelled on a friend’s golden retriever, right down to having the same name!

    Reply
  23. That’s interesting, Kathy Lynn. I’ve definitely based dogs on my own and the dog in my current wip is modelled on a friend’s golden retriever, right down to having the same name!

    Reply
  24. That’s interesting, Kathy Lynn. I’ve definitely based dogs on my own and the dog in my current wip is modelled on a friend’s golden retriever, right down to having the same name!

    Reply
  25. That’s interesting, Kathy Lynn. I’ve definitely based dogs on my own and the dog in my current wip is modelled on a friend’s golden retriever, right down to having the same name!

    Reply
  26. Sonya–I must admit that Mark Harmon is not my idea of an English duke. *G* Some people really get a kick out of the fantasy casting and it’s harmless, though like you, I’m not interested in using celebrities as models for my characters. As you see, we Wenches largely create our characters from whole cloth. It’s easier and better that way.

    Reply
  27. Sonya–I must admit that Mark Harmon is not my idea of an English duke. *G* Some people really get a kick out of the fantasy casting and it’s harmless, though like you, I’m not interested in using celebrities as models for my characters. As you see, we Wenches largely create our characters from whole cloth. It’s easier and better that way.

    Reply
  28. Sonya–I must admit that Mark Harmon is not my idea of an English duke. *G* Some people really get a kick out of the fantasy casting and it’s harmless, though like you, I’m not interested in using celebrities as models for my characters. As you see, we Wenches largely create our characters from whole cloth. It’s easier and better that way.

    Reply
  29. Sonya–I must admit that Mark Harmon is not my idea of an English duke. *G* Some people really get a kick out of the fantasy casting and it’s harmless, though like you, I’m not interested in using celebrities as models for my characters. As you see, we Wenches largely create our characters from whole cloth. It’s easier and better that way.

    Reply
  30. Sonya–I must admit that Mark Harmon is not my idea of an English duke. *G* Some people really get a kick out of the fantasy casting and it’s harmless, though like you, I’m not interested in using celebrities as models for my characters. As you see, we Wenches largely create our characters from whole cloth. It’s easier and better that way.

    Reply
  31. Kathy–I could have written your comment. *G* I like to say that the people in my books are imaginary, but the cats are real cats. *G* I’ve put in a dog or two that I’ve known as well.

    Reply
  32. Kathy–I could have written your comment. *G* I like to say that the people in my books are imaginary, but the cats are real cats. *G* I’ve put in a dog or two that I’ve known as well.

    Reply
  33. Kathy–I could have written your comment. *G* I like to say that the people in my books are imaginary, but the cats are real cats. *G* I’ve put in a dog or two that I’ve known as well.

    Reply
  34. Kathy–I could have written your comment. *G* I like to say that the people in my books are imaginary, but the cats are real cats. *G* I’ve put in a dog or two that I’ve known as well.

    Reply
  35. Kathy–I could have written your comment. *G* I like to say that the people in my books are imaginary, but the cats are real cats. *G* I’ve put in a dog or two that I’ve known as well.

    Reply
  36. I did read the beauty and the beast book where the hero was based on House. I suspected it as I read it; the author confirmed it in her notes. There’s another series based on the Brady Bunch. Yet another author used True Spies as her inspiration.
    I strongly prefer those stories where the hero and heroine become unique, identifiable characters with a nice mix of positive attributes and human flaws. This blog is a wonderful description of how that process happens. The Wenches and a few others’ characters put those authors on my auto-buy list.
    BTW, I love pets in stories.

    Reply
  37. I did read the beauty and the beast book where the hero was based on House. I suspected it as I read it; the author confirmed it in her notes. There’s another series based on the Brady Bunch. Yet another author used True Spies as her inspiration.
    I strongly prefer those stories where the hero and heroine become unique, identifiable characters with a nice mix of positive attributes and human flaws. This blog is a wonderful description of how that process happens. The Wenches and a few others’ characters put those authors on my auto-buy list.
    BTW, I love pets in stories.

    Reply
  38. I did read the beauty and the beast book where the hero was based on House. I suspected it as I read it; the author confirmed it in her notes. There’s another series based on the Brady Bunch. Yet another author used True Spies as her inspiration.
    I strongly prefer those stories where the hero and heroine become unique, identifiable characters with a nice mix of positive attributes and human flaws. This blog is a wonderful description of how that process happens. The Wenches and a few others’ characters put those authors on my auto-buy list.
    BTW, I love pets in stories.

    Reply
  39. I did read the beauty and the beast book where the hero was based on House. I suspected it as I read it; the author confirmed it in her notes. There’s another series based on the Brady Bunch. Yet another author used True Spies as her inspiration.
    I strongly prefer those stories where the hero and heroine become unique, identifiable characters with a nice mix of positive attributes and human flaws. This blog is a wonderful description of how that process happens. The Wenches and a few others’ characters put those authors on my auto-buy list.
    BTW, I love pets in stories.

    Reply
  40. I did read the beauty and the beast book where the hero was based on House. I suspected it as I read it; the author confirmed it in her notes. There’s another series based on the Brady Bunch. Yet another author used True Spies as her inspiration.
    I strongly prefer those stories where the hero and heroine become unique, identifiable characters with a nice mix of positive attributes and human flaws. This blog is a wonderful description of how that process happens. The Wenches and a few others’ characters put those authors on my auto-buy list.
    BTW, I love pets in stories.

    Reply
  41. Sonya, I read that “House’ book and loved it. But then I like the TV show as well. he’s a fascinating character.
    As for “fantasy casting” celebrities, I use photos of actors etc in my story collages, but I know nothing about the real person in the picture and don’t want to because they are not my character at all. But in blogs when the book come out, it’s a common to be asked “if your book was to be made into a film, who would act in it” — a question I can never answer easily, even if I have actors on my collages. The personality of the real actor might not at all match my hero or heroine.

    Reply
  42. Sonya, I read that “House’ book and loved it. But then I like the TV show as well. he’s a fascinating character.
    As for “fantasy casting” celebrities, I use photos of actors etc in my story collages, but I know nothing about the real person in the picture and don’t want to because they are not my character at all. But in blogs when the book come out, it’s a common to be asked “if your book was to be made into a film, who would act in it” — a question I can never answer easily, even if I have actors on my collages. The personality of the real actor might not at all match my hero or heroine.

    Reply
  43. Sonya, I read that “House’ book and loved it. But then I like the TV show as well. he’s a fascinating character.
    As for “fantasy casting” celebrities, I use photos of actors etc in my story collages, but I know nothing about the real person in the picture and don’t want to because they are not my character at all. But in blogs when the book come out, it’s a common to be asked “if your book was to be made into a film, who would act in it” — a question I can never answer easily, even if I have actors on my collages. The personality of the real actor might not at all match my hero or heroine.

    Reply
  44. Sonya, I read that “House’ book and loved it. But then I like the TV show as well. he’s a fascinating character.
    As for “fantasy casting” celebrities, I use photos of actors etc in my story collages, but I know nothing about the real person in the picture and don’t want to because they are not my character at all. But in blogs when the book come out, it’s a common to be asked “if your book was to be made into a film, who would act in it” — a question I can never answer easily, even if I have actors on my collages. The personality of the real actor might not at all match my hero or heroine.

    Reply
  45. Sonya, I read that “House’ book and loved it. But then I like the TV show as well. he’s a fascinating character.
    As for “fantasy casting” celebrities, I use photos of actors etc in my story collages, but I know nothing about the real person in the picture and don’t want to because they are not my character at all. But in blogs when the book come out, it’s a common to be asked “if your book was to be made into a film, who would act in it” — a question I can never answer easily, even if I have actors on my collages. The personality of the real actor might not at all match my hero or heroine.

    Reply
  46. Shannon–
    I think this qualifies as a kind of fan fic, where people are so inspired by some other creatie form that they want to work with that world. It’s not uncommon–the Twilight series inspired 50 Shades of Grey books, though I’m not sure what the connection was. *G* But as you see from the blog, all the Wenches prefer our own creations, and I think probably most writers are like us.

    Reply
  47. Shannon–
    I think this qualifies as a kind of fan fic, where people are so inspired by some other creatie form that they want to work with that world. It’s not uncommon–the Twilight series inspired 50 Shades of Grey books, though I’m not sure what the connection was. *G* But as you see from the blog, all the Wenches prefer our own creations, and I think probably most writers are like us.

    Reply
  48. Shannon–
    I think this qualifies as a kind of fan fic, where people are so inspired by some other creatie form that they want to work with that world. It’s not uncommon–the Twilight series inspired 50 Shades of Grey books, though I’m not sure what the connection was. *G* But as you see from the blog, all the Wenches prefer our own creations, and I think probably most writers are like us.

    Reply
  49. Shannon–
    I think this qualifies as a kind of fan fic, where people are so inspired by some other creatie form that they want to work with that world. It’s not uncommon–the Twilight series inspired 50 Shades of Grey books, though I’m not sure what the connection was. *G* But as you see from the blog, all the Wenches prefer our own creations, and I think probably most writers are like us.

    Reply
  50. Shannon–
    I think this qualifies as a kind of fan fic, where people are so inspired by some other creatie form that they want to work with that world. It’s not uncommon–the Twilight series inspired 50 Shades of Grey books, though I’m not sure what the connection was. *G* But as you see from the blog, all the Wenches prefer our own creations, and I think probably most writers are like us.

    Reply
  51. I have toyed with using my ex as the villain. but i have resisted. he might not deserve that much thought. It’s funny this topic came up today because the advice column, Carolyn Hax has a letter about a sister who is disturbed that her sister, a humor columnist, discusses their spats, humorously and with exaggeration, and sis isn’t sure she’s quite happy about that.

    Reply
  52. I have toyed with using my ex as the villain. but i have resisted. he might not deserve that much thought. It’s funny this topic came up today because the advice column, Carolyn Hax has a letter about a sister who is disturbed that her sister, a humor columnist, discusses their spats, humorously and with exaggeration, and sis isn’t sure she’s quite happy about that.

    Reply
  53. I have toyed with using my ex as the villain. but i have resisted. he might not deserve that much thought. It’s funny this topic came up today because the advice column, Carolyn Hax has a letter about a sister who is disturbed that her sister, a humor columnist, discusses their spats, humorously and with exaggeration, and sis isn’t sure she’s quite happy about that.

    Reply
  54. I have toyed with using my ex as the villain. but i have resisted. he might not deserve that much thought. It’s funny this topic came up today because the advice column, Carolyn Hax has a letter about a sister who is disturbed that her sister, a humor columnist, discusses their spats, humorously and with exaggeration, and sis isn’t sure she’s quite happy about that.

    Reply
  55. I have toyed with using my ex as the villain. but i have resisted. he might not deserve that much thought. It’s funny this topic came up today because the advice column, Carolyn Hax has a letter about a sister who is disturbed that her sister, a humor columnist, discusses their spats, humorously and with exaggeration, and sis isn’t sure she’s quite happy about that.

    Reply
  56. Fascinating discussion!
    It occurs to me that characters and ideas often emerge from the subconscious mind, eg when you wake after a sound sleep and a new character or plot idea is born. Analysing the subconscious with the conscious mind is a tricky business. I’m inclined to think that facets of real and fictional characters are somehow stitched together …. rather like Lego as Joanna suggests.
    If you’re basing a villain on some man you know, give the villain a tiny penis and the man will never claim it’s him. (I suspect that women find this funnier than men do.)
    I believe that a tiny penis can correlate with exceptional abilities …. I have read that Napolean Bonaparte came into this category ….. so it could be a great feature to give to a hero! LOL

    Reply
  57. Fascinating discussion!
    It occurs to me that characters and ideas often emerge from the subconscious mind, eg when you wake after a sound sleep and a new character or plot idea is born. Analysing the subconscious with the conscious mind is a tricky business. I’m inclined to think that facets of real and fictional characters are somehow stitched together …. rather like Lego as Joanna suggests.
    If you’re basing a villain on some man you know, give the villain a tiny penis and the man will never claim it’s him. (I suspect that women find this funnier than men do.)
    I believe that a tiny penis can correlate with exceptional abilities …. I have read that Napolean Bonaparte came into this category ….. so it could be a great feature to give to a hero! LOL

    Reply
  58. Fascinating discussion!
    It occurs to me that characters and ideas often emerge from the subconscious mind, eg when you wake after a sound sleep and a new character or plot idea is born. Analysing the subconscious with the conscious mind is a tricky business. I’m inclined to think that facets of real and fictional characters are somehow stitched together …. rather like Lego as Joanna suggests.
    If you’re basing a villain on some man you know, give the villain a tiny penis and the man will never claim it’s him. (I suspect that women find this funnier than men do.)
    I believe that a tiny penis can correlate with exceptional abilities …. I have read that Napolean Bonaparte came into this category ….. so it could be a great feature to give to a hero! LOL

    Reply
  59. Fascinating discussion!
    It occurs to me that characters and ideas often emerge from the subconscious mind, eg when you wake after a sound sleep and a new character or plot idea is born. Analysing the subconscious with the conscious mind is a tricky business. I’m inclined to think that facets of real and fictional characters are somehow stitched together …. rather like Lego as Joanna suggests.
    If you’re basing a villain on some man you know, give the villain a tiny penis and the man will never claim it’s him. (I suspect that women find this funnier than men do.)
    I believe that a tiny penis can correlate with exceptional abilities …. I have read that Napolean Bonaparte came into this category ….. so it could be a great feature to give to a hero! LOL

    Reply
  60. Fascinating discussion!
    It occurs to me that characters and ideas often emerge from the subconscious mind, eg when you wake after a sound sleep and a new character or plot idea is born. Analysing the subconscious with the conscious mind is a tricky business. I’m inclined to think that facets of real and fictional characters are somehow stitched together …. rather like Lego as Joanna suggests.
    If you’re basing a villain on some man you know, give the villain a tiny penis and the man will never claim it’s him. (I suspect that women find this funnier than men do.)
    I believe that a tiny penis can correlate with exceptional abilities …. I have read that Napolean Bonaparte came into this category ….. so it could be a great feature to give to a hero! LOL

    Reply
  61. Quantum–
    ++It occurs to me that characters and ideas often emerge from the subconscious mind, eg when you wake after a sound sleep and a new character or plot idea is born. Analysing the subconscious with the conscious mind is a tricky business. I’m inclined to think that facets of real and fictional characters are somehow stitched together ++
    Yep, that’s how it works!
    As for Napoleon’s possibly tiny penis–do we really trust the English not to lie about that, given all the history there? *G*

    Reply
  62. Quantum–
    ++It occurs to me that characters and ideas often emerge from the subconscious mind, eg when you wake after a sound sleep and a new character or plot idea is born. Analysing the subconscious with the conscious mind is a tricky business. I’m inclined to think that facets of real and fictional characters are somehow stitched together ++
    Yep, that’s how it works!
    As for Napoleon’s possibly tiny penis–do we really trust the English not to lie about that, given all the history there? *G*

    Reply
  63. Quantum–
    ++It occurs to me that characters and ideas often emerge from the subconscious mind, eg when you wake after a sound sleep and a new character or plot idea is born. Analysing the subconscious with the conscious mind is a tricky business. I’m inclined to think that facets of real and fictional characters are somehow stitched together ++
    Yep, that’s how it works!
    As for Napoleon’s possibly tiny penis–do we really trust the English not to lie about that, given all the history there? *G*

    Reply
  64. Quantum–
    ++It occurs to me that characters and ideas often emerge from the subconscious mind, eg when you wake after a sound sleep and a new character or plot idea is born. Analysing the subconscious with the conscious mind is a tricky business. I’m inclined to think that facets of real and fictional characters are somehow stitched together ++
    Yep, that’s how it works!
    As for Napoleon’s possibly tiny penis–do we really trust the English not to lie about that, given all the history there? *G*

    Reply
  65. Quantum–
    ++It occurs to me that characters and ideas often emerge from the subconscious mind, eg when you wake after a sound sleep and a new character or plot idea is born. Analysing the subconscious with the conscious mind is a tricky business. I’m inclined to think that facets of real and fictional characters are somehow stitched together ++
    Yep, that’s how it works!
    As for Napoleon’s possibly tiny penis–do we really trust the English not to lie about that, given all the history there? *G*

    Reply
  66. Thea–if I were the sister, I wouldn’t like it! Fiction is one thing, but being fodder for a family member’s column is quite another.
    As for your ex–you’re right, he doesn’t deserve that much thought!

    Reply
  67. Thea–if I were the sister, I wouldn’t like it! Fiction is one thing, but being fodder for a family member’s column is quite another.
    As for your ex–you’re right, he doesn’t deserve that much thought!

    Reply
  68. Thea–if I were the sister, I wouldn’t like it! Fiction is one thing, but being fodder for a family member’s column is quite another.
    As for your ex–you’re right, he doesn’t deserve that much thought!

    Reply
  69. Thea–if I were the sister, I wouldn’t like it! Fiction is one thing, but being fodder for a family member’s column is quite another.
    As for your ex–you’re right, he doesn’t deserve that much thought!

    Reply
  70. Thea–if I were the sister, I wouldn’t like it! Fiction is one thing, but being fodder for a family member’s column is quite another.
    As for your ex–you’re right, he doesn’t deserve that much thought!

    Reply
  71. Interesting, Sarah. I’m not sure about that, or perhaps they each have a bit.
    Rothgar’s tortured by factors in his early life, but beyond that he’s not blasted again and again as Lymond is, though I agree on the “love you but can’t marry you.” I’d never thought of that! Different reasons, though.
    You’re right that Nicholas isn’t tortured. The element I took there is that he’s a natural, charistmatic leader but realizes the dangers of it and does his best to retreat. Again, he more or less gets to do that, as I’m not nearly as tough an author as Dunnett!
    Thanks for the comment.

    Reply
  72. Interesting, Sarah. I’m not sure about that, or perhaps they each have a bit.
    Rothgar’s tortured by factors in his early life, but beyond that he’s not blasted again and again as Lymond is, though I agree on the “love you but can’t marry you.” I’d never thought of that! Different reasons, though.
    You’re right that Nicholas isn’t tortured. The element I took there is that he’s a natural, charistmatic leader but realizes the dangers of it and does his best to retreat. Again, he more or less gets to do that, as I’m not nearly as tough an author as Dunnett!
    Thanks for the comment.

    Reply
  73. Interesting, Sarah. I’m not sure about that, or perhaps they each have a bit.
    Rothgar’s tortured by factors in his early life, but beyond that he’s not blasted again and again as Lymond is, though I agree on the “love you but can’t marry you.” I’d never thought of that! Different reasons, though.
    You’re right that Nicholas isn’t tortured. The element I took there is that he’s a natural, charistmatic leader but realizes the dangers of it and does his best to retreat. Again, he more or less gets to do that, as I’m not nearly as tough an author as Dunnett!
    Thanks for the comment.

    Reply
  74. Interesting, Sarah. I’m not sure about that, or perhaps they each have a bit.
    Rothgar’s tortured by factors in his early life, but beyond that he’s not blasted again and again as Lymond is, though I agree on the “love you but can’t marry you.” I’d never thought of that! Different reasons, though.
    You’re right that Nicholas isn’t tortured. The element I took there is that he’s a natural, charistmatic leader but realizes the dangers of it and does his best to retreat. Again, he more or less gets to do that, as I’m not nearly as tough an author as Dunnett!
    Thanks for the comment.

    Reply
  75. Interesting, Sarah. I’m not sure about that, or perhaps they each have a bit.
    Rothgar’s tortured by factors in his early life, but beyond that he’s not blasted again and again as Lymond is, though I agree on the “love you but can’t marry you.” I’d never thought of that! Different reasons, though.
    You’re right that Nicholas isn’t tortured. The element I took there is that he’s a natural, charistmatic leader but realizes the dangers of it and does his best to retreat. Again, he more or less gets to do that, as I’m not nearly as tough an author as Dunnett!
    Thanks for the comment.

    Reply
  76. I’ve been a character in a book! In one of my friend’s early sweet Harlequins, she wrote me in as the Girl Scout mom trying to be 50 places at once. It was so true of my life at the time that she couldn’t resist. Of course it was a positive portrayal. I was very flattered to become part of her book.

    Reply
  77. I’ve been a character in a book! In one of my friend’s early sweet Harlequins, she wrote me in as the Girl Scout mom trying to be 50 places at once. It was so true of my life at the time that she couldn’t resist. Of course it was a positive portrayal. I was very flattered to become part of her book.

    Reply
  78. I’ve been a character in a book! In one of my friend’s early sweet Harlequins, she wrote me in as the Girl Scout mom trying to be 50 places at once. It was so true of my life at the time that she couldn’t resist. Of course it was a positive portrayal. I was very flattered to become part of her book.

    Reply
  79. I’ve been a character in a book! In one of my friend’s early sweet Harlequins, she wrote me in as the Girl Scout mom trying to be 50 places at once. It was so true of my life at the time that she couldn’t resist. Of course it was a positive portrayal. I was very flattered to become part of her book.

    Reply
  80. I’ve been a character in a book! In one of my friend’s early sweet Harlequins, she wrote me in as the Girl Scout mom trying to be 50 places at once. It was so true of my life at the time that she couldn’t resist. Of course it was a positive portrayal. I was very flattered to become part of her book.

    Reply
  81. MJ–what fun! Of course if one is putting in friends, the portrayal had jolly well better be positive.
    In SFF, there’s a custom called Tuckerization where the author uses a name of someone deliberately. Again, it had better be positive.
    Do you miss having first crack at the Girl Scout cookies? *G*

    Reply
  82. MJ–what fun! Of course if one is putting in friends, the portrayal had jolly well better be positive.
    In SFF, there’s a custom called Tuckerization where the author uses a name of someone deliberately. Again, it had better be positive.
    Do you miss having first crack at the Girl Scout cookies? *G*

    Reply
  83. MJ–what fun! Of course if one is putting in friends, the portrayal had jolly well better be positive.
    In SFF, there’s a custom called Tuckerization where the author uses a name of someone deliberately. Again, it had better be positive.
    Do you miss having first crack at the Girl Scout cookies? *G*

    Reply
  84. MJ–what fun! Of course if one is putting in friends, the portrayal had jolly well better be positive.
    In SFF, there’s a custom called Tuckerization where the author uses a name of someone deliberately. Again, it had better be positive.
    Do you miss having first crack at the Girl Scout cookies? *G*

    Reply
  85. MJ–what fun! Of course if one is putting in friends, the portrayal had jolly well better be positive.
    In SFF, there’s a custom called Tuckerization where the author uses a name of someone deliberately. Again, it had better be positive.
    Do you miss having first crack at the Girl Scout cookies? *G*

    Reply
  86. I understand that it could be easier to create a character with a person in mind, but I personally prefer characters not based on popular figures.
    It can be risky b/c you can never know if everybody sees those people as you see them. Who knows, perhaps there’s some women out there that think George Clooney sucks.
    But secondly, I personally feel uncomfortable when I think that the writer had this or that popular person in mind when creating that character. It happened to me with Susan Elizabeth Phillips ‘What I Did For Love’. Perhaps it’s something that happens with contemporary rather than with historical books.

    Reply
  87. I understand that it could be easier to create a character with a person in mind, but I personally prefer characters not based on popular figures.
    It can be risky b/c you can never know if everybody sees those people as you see them. Who knows, perhaps there’s some women out there that think George Clooney sucks.
    But secondly, I personally feel uncomfortable when I think that the writer had this or that popular person in mind when creating that character. It happened to me with Susan Elizabeth Phillips ‘What I Did For Love’. Perhaps it’s something that happens with contemporary rather than with historical books.

    Reply
  88. I understand that it could be easier to create a character with a person in mind, but I personally prefer characters not based on popular figures.
    It can be risky b/c you can never know if everybody sees those people as you see them. Who knows, perhaps there’s some women out there that think George Clooney sucks.
    But secondly, I personally feel uncomfortable when I think that the writer had this or that popular person in mind when creating that character. It happened to me with Susan Elizabeth Phillips ‘What I Did For Love’. Perhaps it’s something that happens with contemporary rather than with historical books.

    Reply
  89. I understand that it could be easier to create a character with a person in mind, but I personally prefer characters not based on popular figures.
    It can be risky b/c you can never know if everybody sees those people as you see them. Who knows, perhaps there’s some women out there that think George Clooney sucks.
    But secondly, I personally feel uncomfortable when I think that the writer had this or that popular person in mind when creating that character. It happened to me with Susan Elizabeth Phillips ‘What I Did For Love’. Perhaps it’s something that happens with contemporary rather than with historical books.

    Reply
  90. I understand that it could be easier to create a character with a person in mind, but I personally prefer characters not based on popular figures.
    It can be risky b/c you can never know if everybody sees those people as you see them. Who knows, perhaps there’s some women out there that think George Clooney sucks.
    But secondly, I personally feel uncomfortable when I think that the writer had this or that popular person in mind when creating that character. It happened to me with Susan Elizabeth Phillips ‘What I Did For Love’. Perhaps it’s something that happens with contemporary rather than with historical books.

    Reply
  91. I’ll be the odd gal out here — I have based characters in my novels on people I knew. Of course they always end up morphing into individuals who fit the needs of the story and their own backgrounds/personalities. I did kill off a nasty villain once, but I’m sure the original model would never have recognized himself. I’ll be discussing this issue more in my Book View Cafe blog post on July 16. (www.bookviewcafe.com)
    Thanks for all the interesting reactions here!

    Reply
  92. I’ll be the odd gal out here — I have based characters in my novels on people I knew. Of course they always end up morphing into individuals who fit the needs of the story and their own backgrounds/personalities. I did kill off a nasty villain once, but I’m sure the original model would never have recognized himself. I’ll be discussing this issue more in my Book View Cafe blog post on July 16. (www.bookviewcafe.com)
    Thanks for all the interesting reactions here!

    Reply
  93. I’ll be the odd gal out here — I have based characters in my novels on people I knew. Of course they always end up morphing into individuals who fit the needs of the story and their own backgrounds/personalities. I did kill off a nasty villain once, but I’m sure the original model would never have recognized himself. I’ll be discussing this issue more in my Book View Cafe blog post on July 16. (www.bookviewcafe.com)
    Thanks for all the interesting reactions here!

    Reply
  94. I’ll be the odd gal out here — I have based characters in my novels on people I knew. Of course they always end up morphing into individuals who fit the needs of the story and their own backgrounds/personalities. I did kill off a nasty villain once, but I’m sure the original model would never have recognized himself. I’ll be discussing this issue more in my Book View Cafe blog post on July 16. (www.bookviewcafe.com)
    Thanks for all the interesting reactions here!

    Reply
  95. I’ll be the odd gal out here — I have based characters in my novels on people I knew. Of course they always end up morphing into individuals who fit the needs of the story and their own backgrounds/personalities. I did kill off a nasty villain once, but I’m sure the original model would never have recognized himself. I’ll be discussing this issue more in my Book View Cafe blog post on July 16. (www.bookviewcafe.com)
    Thanks for all the interesting reactions here!

    Reply
  96. Sara–
    Characters have that slippery tendency to morph, don’t they? Edith Layton, who was a Word WEnch until her death, once told me that in college, she wrote a play with her family members in it–and when they saw the play, all of them recognized the OTHER family members, but not themselves. Which puts still another twist on the subject. *G* I’ll have to look for your BVC blog.

    Reply
  97. Sara–
    Characters have that slippery tendency to morph, don’t they? Edith Layton, who was a Word WEnch until her death, once told me that in college, she wrote a play with her family members in it–and when they saw the play, all of them recognized the OTHER family members, but not themselves. Which puts still another twist on the subject. *G* I’ll have to look for your BVC blog.

    Reply
  98. Sara–
    Characters have that slippery tendency to morph, don’t they? Edith Layton, who was a Word WEnch until her death, once told me that in college, she wrote a play with her family members in it–and when they saw the play, all of them recognized the OTHER family members, but not themselves. Which puts still another twist on the subject. *G* I’ll have to look for your BVC blog.

    Reply
  99. Sara–
    Characters have that slippery tendency to morph, don’t they? Edith Layton, who was a Word WEnch until her death, once told me that in college, she wrote a play with her family members in it–and when they saw the play, all of them recognized the OTHER family members, but not themselves. Which puts still another twist on the subject. *G* I’ll have to look for your BVC blog.

    Reply
  100. Sara–
    Characters have that slippery tendency to morph, don’t they? Edith Layton, who was a Word WEnch until her death, once told me that in college, she wrote a play with her family members in it–and when they saw the play, all of them recognized the OTHER family members, but not themselves. Which puts still another twist on the subject. *G* I’ll have to look for your BVC blog.

    Reply

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