1. satch
    Offline

    satch New Member

    Joined:
    Nov 17, 2009
    Messages:
    11
    Likes Received:
    0

    Using real characters

    Discussion in 'Character Development' started by satch, Jul 4, 2010.

    Hi Friends,

    I have been plotting some stories. Read some novels. I have stuck always with
    one question. I am glad we have this forum. Here I go..

    "How genuine is to use real existed characters in your plot or story".

    For example, in Da Vinci code, a great novel I read, author used several existed characters in his novel like L. Da Vinci and Newton..etc. I hope not, but what the author said is correct? or he simply used it?

    Are you allowed to use the historical characters?

    Please give me your opinion. Is there any kind of rule for such cases.

    Should I not use the real characters unless what I write is happened for real?

    Can I pick any king (real kings in past) or past presidents to involve in my novel?

    Thanks a bunch!
    Satch.
     
  2. mammamaia
    Offline

    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

    Joined:
    Nov 21, 2006
    Messages:
    19,316
    Likes Received:
    1,014
    Location:
    Coquille, Oregon
    ...of course you are... it's done all the time... how can anyone write historical fiction if actual history isn't included?... and what is history without the people that made it?

    ...no... however, common sense would suggest you not go too far astray of recorded historical fact in re real people from the past, unless you're writing a farce or a fantasy...

    ...see above...

    ...why not?... they're all fair game, being public figures... but again, good taste and good sense should prevail... and in the case of those who are still alive, or have surviving family members who might sue if you denigrat them, you'd best exercise good judgement in what you have them do and say...
     
  3. satch
    Offline

    satch New Member

    Joined:
    Nov 17, 2009
    Messages:
    11
    Likes Received:
    0
    Hello mammamaia,

    Thanks for your reply. I got it...


    :)
     
  4. TerraIncognita
    Offline

    TerraIncognita Aggressively Nice Person Contributor

    Joined:
    May 28, 2010
    Messages:
    1,339
    Likes Received:
    40
    Location:
    Texas
    I'm in agreement with Mia. You can use anyone you please. Always keep in mind possible consequences of presenting them in a negative light if they are still alive or have living relatives. I don't know if you are a fan of the new Doctor Who. Season 5 had a really great episode involving Van Gogh. They really captured his character. :)
     
  5. mammamaia
    Offline

    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

    Joined:
    Nov 21, 2006
    Messages:
    19,316
    Likes Received:
    1,014
    Location:
    Coquille, Oregon
    i do hope you were joking!
     
  6. Cogito
    Offline

    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

    Joined:
    May 19, 2007
    Messages:
    35,935
    Likes Received:
    2,043
    Location:
    Massachusetts, USA
    No, no joke. We can only guess how accurately his character was captured, but it was an interesting interpretation.
     
  7. TerraIncognita
    Offline

    TerraIncognita Aggressively Nice Person Contributor

    Joined:
    May 28, 2010
    Messages:
    1,339
    Likes Received:
    40
    Location:
    Texas
    I thought it was really good. From what I have heard I thought they did a good job. :/
     
  8. Legacy1306
    Offline

    Legacy1306 Senior Member

    Joined:
    May 24, 2010
    Messages:
    133
    Likes Received:
    4
    Location:
    U.S.
    Characters like Da Vinci, Van Gogh, Machiavelli, etc, etc. Have lives srouded in mystery (especially Da Vinci.) Da vinci would write his works in code, or with a mirror. He planned great feats of engineering that were never built. Machiavelli, author of "The Prince", was similar. Using characters like this is the base for a fantastic historical mystery, like Assassin's Creed or Da Vinci Code.
     
  9. Oscar Rat
    Offline

    Oscar Rat Member

    Joined:
    Jul 11, 2010
    Messages:
    34
    Likes Received:
    0
    Location:
    In that wooded area behind your house.
    In my ratty opinion, using real characters has its pros and cons.

    On one hand, you can research their attributes. But, are they accurate? Try finding anything unsavory about George Washington. According to my history books, he’s perfect.

    Then there’s Uncle Adolf, of WWII fame. Was he truly evil, or nuts? Did he have any good traits? After all, he did pet his dogs and Evas.

    It’s hard to really personalize a real character, to get close to them, understand them as individuals.

    On the other hand, if you mention their names, “Wham,” The reader forms a picture in his mind. The same goes for stereotypes. I often use stereotypes as minor characters. It saves copious descriptions.

    Also, with real people, you run a constant risk of readers knowing more about them than you do. Learn to expect complaints from the experts. However, unless already published, don’t get angry at those people -- milk them for information.

    As for friends and relatives. If you want to be a writer, get rid of that bias. I don’t know how many times I’ve heard, “But what if Uncle John recognizes himself?” Don’t worry about it, unless you deliberately use a guy named John with those attributes, show it to him, and giggle. If you’re that stupid, go back to digging ditches.

    Mix and match, that’s the secret. Mix and match. For a description, use Aunt Ethel’s hair and her pet dog’s nose. Add Uncle John’s bum leg and your mother’s farts. Mix them up, and their habits. You come out ahead, because you can describe a friend to a “T”, including your opinion of her. Chances are she won’t recognize herself in your mental image. “Jeez. I can’t be that stupid. It must not be me.” Their opinions of themselves rarely match yours of them.

    Use your imagination. If you don’t have an active one, grab that old shovel and get back to work. You’re in the wrong field.

    Oscar Rat.
     
  10. Herl
    Offline

    Herl Member

    Joined:
    Jul 13, 2010
    Messages:
    20
    Likes Received:
    0
    Location:
    Colombia
    as long as you don't get sensitive when you later receive criticism about the impossibilities of your stories involving real historical people due to inaccuracy about known facts of the characters in question, it's all ok. That being the case if you don't manage to involve those famous persons in such ways that they don't erase or replace things that it is known that they did for example one day or in the course of one period of time, which sometimes can be tricky.
     
  11. Oscar Rat
    Offline

    Oscar Rat Member

    Joined:
    Jul 11, 2010
    Messages:
    34
    Likes Received:
    0
    Location:
    In that wooded area behind your house.
    Or, Herl, if it’s a Sci Fi story, you can use that character to change history to the way it’s written now.

    In one story, I brought George Washington from his earlier war with the French -- while in the Virginia Militia -- to the present century, and bought him new false teeth. While here, against orders, my daughter told him part of his future.

    At the time, it took two revolutions to gain our independence from the British. Using her information, George went back and did it in one.

    The teeth? He used them, but still kept his mouth shut when talking. It seems we sent him to a rat dentist that only know how to make rodent teeth. They were better than the fictional wooden ones, though.

    As a fiction writer, don't let facts inhibit your imagination. There's a work-around for almost everything.

    Oscar Rat.
     
  12. satch
    Offline

    satch New Member

    Joined:
    Nov 17, 2009
    Messages:
    11
    Likes Received:
    0
    Thank you guys and gals,

    For sharing your views and suggestions.

    Indeed I got rid of some hesitation....
     

Share This Page