Should you use real people as characters in your books?
I give a definite, “No” on this question.
I do admit I have written a few short stories about people I know. I’m a very observant person by nature (I love psychology and people watching) and there is one story I wrote that will always stick out in my mind. When I was younger, I wrote a short fantasy piece with my friends and I as characters.
They were very baffled when they read it because I had nailed all of them to a T, right down to the phrases and actions they used. This ignited a weird reaction from them that I didn’t like. That mouth drop moment where they’re like, “How in the hell did you know that?” or “Do I really sound like that?” or the dreaded, “It’s weird how you know me so well”. I hated that feeling and often think about that piece because it reminds me of why I don’t want to write about people I know.
I think in a way this is a little impossible. For example, all of our original ideas stem from our own life experiences and that includes people we interact with. All those experiences creep into our writing without us even knowing it. Pieces of us will always be visible in our writing no matter how original we want our work to be because that’s just how it works.
I find this more visible in younger or more inexperienced writers. Sometimes it’s like reading their diary without them even knowing they’re putting it on display for all of us to see. I don’t know why inexperienced writers seem to be this way, maybe you have a few thoughts on it. I’m guessing it’s because they write about what they know, rather than what they can create.
I’ve noticed in my books some of myself creeping in. For example in The Bloodlust Prince, Aleesia is very close to her brother, as is Addison in Christian’s Kisses. In real life, I have always been very close to my older brother (we were three years apart) and that bond has carried into my writing. I also notice if a character has a child it is usually always a boy, probably because I myself have son. Hmm…other examples, let’s see….
Well, this next example is a little awkward to mention but it’s very true no matter how much you deny it.
The role of past lovers or crushes.
If you’re writing about the ideal man some of his qualities may be like someone you do love or have loved. We’ll put in a lot of things they do, like the way they flirt, the phrases they use, to even dirtier stuff that I don’t want to get into in this discussion right now. I guess this kind of thing is natural considering these are the people we love and by saying love, I mean there are things about them we adore and those adorations will seep into our writing one way or another. I’ve noticed a lot of my male characters have a lot of my longtime boyfriend’s characteristics and I wonder how much of those details show in my writing. (Bites nails)
Bottom line….our real life will always seep into our writing but we as writers need to do a good job not to let it show 🙂
So what do you think? Can using people from your real life in books be dangerous or even disastrous to your book?