Grandma Says..

Observations and views from a different set of eyes

Swimming In Dangerous Waters

on June 14, 2013


The day I had feared had finally arrived.  The day had come when Danny, my SO, asked to read a few chapters of my novel.  Why did that request make my knees shake, my hands tremble and my stomach drop to the floor?

Because, my friends, when I started writing an outline for the novel, my characters were chosen based on people in my life.  I knew that I would be swimming in some very dangerous waters. Danny is all over the first chapters of the novel and he reappears in future chapters.  Although I changed the name to protect the not-so-innocent man in my life, no-one who knows Danny will have a problem recognizing him.

I knew the risk of using people around me as characters in my book.  They might not be able to take a joke, or appreciate the fact that I took their individual quirks and put them into print.  Some of my characters are a mix of different people.  I’ve taken a little creative license with their personalities and made them into the type of characters I needed to make my novel work.

But, how else does a writer find the characters necessary to make their novel interesting?  We can put all the events into place, but if the reader doesn’t like the characters, you’ve got nothing.  Readers need someone they want to cheer on or sympathize with.  The characters make the book; the events are their playground to strut their stuff.  And the best source of finding these characters is right in your own backyard.

So, yes, writing characters that use or resemble the people around you might have you swimming in dangerous waters.  But, it’s worth the risk because you know these people and can use them to your advantage.  Just be sure to change the names!

Danny read the first two chapters, chuckled in a few places and handed the pages back to me.  “Did you like it?” I asked.

“Yeah, but I’m not grouchy,” he replied, smiling.  Yeah, right!  Whatever!

22 responses to “Swimming In Dangerous Waters

  1. tric says:

    I can understand that dread. I felt the same when I told a few people I know about my blog. Mind you to get his endorsement is good too, one down how many more to go? Looking on the bright side maybe they won’t recognize themselves. What is happening now with your novel? 🙂

  2. Sugar Bee Chronicles says:

    That was a funny end to this blog . . . I laughed at my desk in my office (thank goodness no one was around). I, too, use real-life people for building my characters and take several people to make one. Fiction is always based in reality, I say. ~Susan 🙂

  3. Omg I do that all the time! Most of the characters in my works are people I know – I just cannot help myself lol! I’d like to imagine a certain bass player’s expression when he finds out he’s a brutal naga assassin XDD

  4. Bastet says:

    🙂 The nice thing about writing about real people, is they sometimes don’t recognize themselves :-)…glad Danny has a sense of humor!

  5. keladelaide says:

    So Danny doesn’t see himself the same way as the way you have written the character or didn’t he recognize himself?

    • He recognized some of the things he does and says, so yes, he knew who I was putting into the character. He liked the idea that he becomes somewhat of a hero later on in the story!

  6. mummyshymz says:

    Well, he should be happy and proud of you 🙂

  7. mcwoman says:

    I don’t know you except for our wordpress relationship, but I knew right away you were the main character and Danny was the husband. Knowing that doesn’t minimize the wonderful story you’re creating.

  8. Cranky, I love your down to earth approach and thoroughly enjoy your posts and your comments on mine. thanks for being in cyperspace. I’m nominating you for the WordPress Family Award. Here’s a link for info:

  9. andshelaughs says:

    Oh how I feel your pain!!!

  10. I just hope nobody around me learns about my blog, the things Ive done to them… hehehe.

    But yeah, its easy to take the whole experience you had with someone, the insight you got of his person and turn it into a character, not because theyre good or bad people, its for the structure to make a character (and gossip what they have done).

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: