1. Sandy Banks
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    Sandy Banks Member

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    Do you use family/people close to you as inspiration for writing?

    Discussion in 'Insights & Inspiration' started by Sandy Banks, Jun 21, 2008.

    I tend not to. One reason is the emotions for me are too real and close to home. I know some people use writing to understand their own emotions better and to work through their own personal issues, but I don't. To me writing is just a game. I like to see where my pen takes me. I don't connect my writing to my own personaly feelings.

    Another reason is that i feel writing about someone is quite a disrespectful thing to do. (not trying to say that anyone who uses their family as inspiration is being disrespectful, its just how i feel). When you write about someone you kind of place yourself in a position of power and you disect them. For my inspiration i tend to use people i meet briefly in social encounters, or i use observations i make in everyday life. I know that these people are flesh and blood and have feelings and emotions just like members of my family do, but the distance between me and them makes me feel more comfortable in writing about them.

    I guess what im saying is that i have my writing life and i have my personal life and that the two are completely seperate. When my family have problems or whatever, im looking at it from the point of view of being part of my family rather than from the point of view of being a writer.

    Do some people use people close to them as inspiration? Do you think i am being too sensitive in saying i feel its disrespectfull to use my family in writing? Or do you tend to agree with me? Or do you think it swings both ways?
     
  2. Lemex
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    Lemex That's Lord Lemex to you. Contributor

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    I would say I do. I analyse the relationships I have with people as they are real things, then try my best to recreate it on paper to try and make my characters more realistic.
     
  3. tehuti88
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    tehuti88 Contributing Member

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    I don't use family or anyone close to me in my writing. Ever. There are probably more practical reasons, but the main ones are that they just don't inspire me as characters in my writing (nothing personal--my own personality doesn't inspire me, either!), and I'd just feel weird putting people I know into my work. What if they recognized themselves? (Not that they read any of it, but...)

    A few times in high school, I saw people from afar and used their physical characteristics to create characters; and there's an actor on TV whose voice and some mannerisms have kind of inspired me to create a character; and I sometimes take the real-life name and profession of somebody local and turn them into a character (for example, the county prosecutor and the police chief); but even these characters aren't directly based on anyone. If I do base a character on anyone, even partially, it must be an unconscious process because they're either just people I create, or they simply come into being in my mind without me "putting them together." Different things inspire me to create characters, but basing them on actual people isn't one of them.

    Ditto with plots. Something I hear or indirectly experience might spark an idea for a plot, but certainly not the stuff going on with my family. No major plots, at least.

    I do use the locations I know in my writing all the time, though. My hometown is the setting for an entire novel series of mine, and a nearby island is the direct basis for a fictional one of mine. Location is free for all as far as I'm concerned!

    None of this has to do with my emotions regarding writing since I use writing to explore such things (i. e., it's not just "play" to me); it's just the way I do things.
     
  4. ChimmyBear
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    ChimmyBear Contributing Member Contributor

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    I used my oldest son as inspiration for one of my characters...he was more than happy to help me through little things like a tattoo saying and what he would do in certain situations.

    I am glad I did because this is one of my favorite characters...:D
     
  5. Lunar_Eclipse123
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    Lunar_Eclipse123 New Member

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    I really don't use my family as an inspiration for writing. I can see why some people would, as Lemex said, to make their characters more realistic, but I feel that I can't really work with a character if they're based off of someone I am close to. Hey, that's just the way I feel. :)
     
  6. Torana
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    Torana Contributing Member Contributor

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    I write poetry, so I use what ever inspiration there is around me. I tend to find inspiration in the strangest of things though. Like seeing my father cut all his hair off. He has never cut had short hair since he was a child and so it freaked me out and I used the emotions of that to write a poem. Not about his hair, but I used the emotions I felt. A tear in my childrens eyes inspires my poetry, and I won't say what poems as it would jusst freak people out....:D I'm a horror poet, so hehehehe!

    But I draw my inspiration from every where. From a piece of sand and it's journey/story, to the sun and the warmth of it's rays. There is a story in everything if you look hard enough and care to write about it. <i'll shut up now>
     
  7. NaCl
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    NaCl Contributing Member Contributor

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    I assume we're talking about using a real person's characteristics in a fictional story.

    There is a big difference between using a friend or relative as "inspiration" for writing versus as a model for your character. Inspiration is a good thing, but "modeling" fictional characters after people in real life can be both risky and constricting. Risky - because relationships could be effected (good or bad) if others come to recognize your character's inspiration. Constricting - because you, as a writer, should be free to construct your character to fit the story, not be constricted by a set of characteristics found in some real person.

    .....NaCl

    ps Here is a disclaimer at the front of my current novel: "This book is a work of fiction. Any names and character descriptions in this book are the product of the author’s imagination and any resemblance to a real person is purely coincidental."
     
  8. SonnehLee
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    SonnehLee Contributing Member Contributor

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    I have only conciously based a character on a real person i knew once. And she knew about it, and was actually thrilled. Although it turned out to be once of the hardest things i'd ever done. Although i'm sure, unconsciously, some characters have resemblences to people i know, i try to keep them seperate.
     
  9. Wreybies
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    Wreybies The Ops Pops Operations Manager Staff Contest Administrator Supporter Contributor

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    I will use people I know as a scafold of sorts when creating a character. It helps me to think in terms of a real, flesh and blood, person when I think about how they are going to act and react in the world I create.

    Actual happenings in my life involving those I know? Perhaps not. I would not want someone I know to read my work and then say to me, "I didn't relaise you were upset with me. This is obviously me, and this part right here is obviously what happened the other night at Tommy's party. You couldn't just talk to me?"

    Yeah, that would not be a good feeling.
     
  10. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    most writers will 'use' people they know as models for their characters in one way or another, at one time or another... there's nothing wrong with doing so, as it's perfectly 'normal'... the trick is to not make them recognizable, unless you want to get sued--or worse!...
     
  11. Firefly
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    Firefly Member

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    For the most part, I create my own characters from scratch with no inspiration from anybody, whether the inspiration would be a real person or a fictional character. I've always been thinking up characters from the time I was very, very young, also with no inspiration.

    But occasionally, I might get aspects from a real person, but they're only very minor. I've never really put a real person into my writing with the same name, habits, and everything about them, but I sometimes base a character off of a family member or friend (with their consent/request). My younger brother is always happy to let me base a character off of him.

    I'm not a genius or anything when it comes to this subject, but I think it's alright, although it can be a bit risky. With pets, however, you have much more freedom and it probably wouldn't feel wrong. I'd be fine with putting my dog (and everything about him) in a story. I'd never have to worry about hurting his feelings, and I think he'd be quite flattered if he knew.

    I use places for my writing inspiration all the time. One story-in-progress (basically a rough plot - still working out the details) takes place mostly in an area of Southeastern Arizona, my favorite place on Earth. Another takes place in my town in Nebraska. There are also ones that are based in made-up locations, though I often get ideas from places I know.
     
  12. Crazy Ivan
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    Crazy Ivan Contributing Member

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    I have definitely done this, because my life has had quite a few distinctive characters. I just take those players, enhance their personality traits even more, and I can set down a good character. Is it disrespectful? I don't think so. I'm just drawing inspiration, the same way I would from a song or a certain picture.
     
  13. Firefly
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    Firefly Member

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    I don't think it's disrespectful either. Unless, of course, you were to say a lot of bad things about the character based upon the person you know. That's when it becomes disrespectful. But I think we're all sensible enough not to do that. :D
     
  14. Torana
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    Torana Contributing Member Contributor

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    I have written a short piece of fiction about someone in my past. I needed to vent and found it the best way to vent. I even let him read it and he has no idea it is about him...not that I'd ever tell him though.....

    Otherwise I have never done it for fiction at all.
     
  15. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    I generally don't use people I know for stories. I did write a short story for a competition on this site last year that was based on a real situation, but even there, the only character who was "real" was me. The rest had some basis in real people who were present, but they were altered a great deal.

    I would never use real people from my life in any serious piece of writing. I'd much rather create new characters.

    Of course, every character I create has roots in real people I have known. But I've known a lot of people, so I don't have to draw much from any specific individuals.
     
  16. Amor
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    Amor Member

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    Last year, I wrote a short story where my ex-best friend was my sole inspiration for the idea and main character of the story, even though she was no longer my best friend.

    Other than that, I've never used real people that I know in my writing. Quite honestly, there just aren't too many interesting relatives and friends that I would want to use in my stories. While making new characters, there are no limits as to what their personality could be, their physical description, etc. Although I have to say that it would be a challenge to fit in a real person in a story because there's not much you can change to mold them into the plot perfectly. That could just be me, though =P
     
  17. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    in my first novel, i had the great pleasure of killing off my then not-yet-divorced second ex-husband... it was both personally/emotionally satisfying and a great read!... in the same book, i brought a former [brief] lover back into my [the mc being patterned on moi] life, giving us a happy ending that would never in a zillion years have taken place in real life...

    in another novel, i brought a dead 'great love' back to life and gave us a happy ending, making my then ex one of the villains... so, using events/people from your real life in your writing can be a super catharsis, as well as fodder for terrific stories!
     
  18. Sato Ayako
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    Sato Ayako Contributing Member

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    I try not to. I might get inspiration from someone who doesn't even know I exist, but I make an effort not to use anybody who knows me.

    The reason is I have a hard time keeping characters alive. I also have problems keeping characters from suffering fiery, painful deaths. (All my characters are idiots, I swear it. Either that or they're suicidal and I can't afford to fix them.) I don't want to draw inspiration from someone near to me, have them read the story, recognize him/herself, and wonder what I really thought.

    I used to take inspiration for characters from family and friends. As I grew older, however, writing partners began to accuse me of writing RPF (real person fiction). That was taboo back then. It's not really as bad as some people make it out to be, however, I think there was a benefit in the barring of RPF when I was younger. I learned how to make characters from scratch, starting with only a few ideas.
     
  19. PaddyD
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    PaddyD New Member

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    No matter what I am writing, my inspiration is always myself. When trying to create a character i think of myself, but with somthing different about me; for example I'm a guy, I'd try to imagine myself as a woman. I'm, at least i hope, not a homicidal maniac, but I'll imagine myself as one to make a character. I use what i know of myself, which is not all that much, as a basis for fictional people.

    Maybe I'm self obsessed, or maybe not, but writing to me is just diving into ones own self, and spilling out some of it through the lives of imaginary people.

    So I guess I don't take inspiration from people in my life; though I guess I also do. I wouldn't be myself without the family/friends who have influenced me, and my writing comes solely from myself, so i guess i am influenced by them; although indirectly.
     
  20. Twigstar
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    Twigstar Member

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    My inspirations? Me, and the crazy people I've met and befriended over these insane years.

    But I suppose that because 'Me' is my inspiration, that would constitute my family (late and present) to be inspiration. Wouldn't be me without them. Bless 'em.
     
  21. Trollhammaren
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    Trollhammaren Member

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    My characters are sometimes based off real people, or sometimes I just nick their names. My MC is a partial Mary-Sue, I think. ;) I was sitting in a History lesson, when my teacher said the name 'Jed'. He was someone from the American West. I nicked the name, as I thought it was interesting. :) One of my favourite characters is a romanticised version of a person very close to me.
     
  22. Acglaphotis
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    Acglaphotis Contributing Member

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    No, I try to keep my characters fictional, but sometimes people just drop their personality all over your mind in the most annoying way :p.
     
  23. mistressoftheflies
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    mistressoftheflies Member

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    I do that on occasion, but I enjoy creating my own characters more than basing them off people I know. ;)
     
  24. vampire_dua
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    vampire_dua Member

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    hmmm...actually no I dont use them. Maybe friends, but not family. Just that my family doesn't give me enough support to write what I like. Of course, they give me support, but they hate that I'm writing a vampire novel. they THINK it's vicious. lol okay anyways, I think it's a very good idea to inspire characters from people close to you. It makes your characters more real and believable. Though you could do that with characters entirely made from your own imagination.
     
  25. La Flauta
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    La Flauta New Member

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    You need to create your characters from somewhere, right? I believe that the more real characters come from yourself. Don't you sit in coffee shops and stare at people from behind a newspaper and make up that person's life story? The one who keeps asking the cashiers questions before ever coming up with a decision. Where do you come up with his life stories? Where do you get his experiences from? I know people who can't ever come up with decisions, and I'm a person who experiences once in awhile myself, so I could probably write a story about the struggles of somebody who can never decide on anything, because I can relate to that guy, because I can understand what it's like, and because I witness traits like that in people I see every day.
     

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