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  1. AvihooI
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    AvihooI Member

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    Would you model characters based on people you know?

    Discussion in 'Character Development' started by AvihooI, May 26, 2011.

    I mean, I am quite sure people do that. Even so, when I think of doing it myself I am reluctant. It's as if I am using how I perceive a human being I really know in my own way. As such, I may miss out on a spectrum of aspects that exist - and nonetheless offend the person of the matter.

    A good reason to do so however, is that you may know so much about a person that you don't need to tediously fledge a realistically feeling personality - it's already there. Even better - it's there waiting to take whatever action you imagine it to take and talk the way you know it's going to talk.

    How about you?
     
  2. cybrxkhan
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    cybrxkhan Contributing Member

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    I tend to do this often to varying degrees. Sometimes, entire characters are more or less based on or very similar to people I've known; other times, it's just tidbits. Generally, though, what I like to do is associate people I know with characters who have similar personalities, so I have a good idea what the character is like.

    For instance, Magna, one of the important secondary characters in one of my current projects, is an assertive, even aggressive, yet witty and generally level-headed young woman. I also happen to have a very close friend who also has these similar traits. As such, when it's hard for me to imagine how Magna would act, I just imagine as if it's my friend instead, so I get a good idea about how things could work out. Additionally, by associating Magna with my friend, I also find out rather interesting things about her that I could not have otherwise if I had just tried working on her personality isolatedly - for instance, I now know Magna likes playing lesbian with her friend and co-wive Aida, even though she isn't lesbian herself and really just does it because she finds it amusing; this was in fact vaguely based off some jokes my friend used to do to our other female friends.
     
  3. Infinitytruth
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    Infinitytruth Senior Member

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    Sure, why not? Have I done it? No. To be honest, I haven't written enough stories to get to that point. I'm sure it would offer me a much more infinite range, besides that which only is thought up from my own mind.
     
  4. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    of course!... fiction writers do that all the time... they just don't make them recognizable [if they're smart], so they can't get sued! ;-)

    and yes, i've done it... i once obtained satisfying emotional revenge by making my ex-husband a rapist, then killing him off... and greatly enjoyed reliving love scenes from my past with an assortment of former lovers i brought back to life [one literally, as he had died] in my stories...
     
  5. Lord Malum
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    Lord Malum Senior Member

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    I always take bits and pieces from people I know. I once tried to mimic my girlfriend at the time in a character for a short story and she told me it reminded her of me. Have no idea why. Haven't done that since.
     
  6. _Lulu_
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    _Lulu_ Member

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    I think you have to be careful to avoid being sued. I also think you have to have a broad mind and extend your character further than just one or two sides to the traits you're using to make sure nothing is being missed out. However, saying that, characters come alive so their personality will come out with them too.


    The story I'm currently writing is inspired by two different occassions and three different people. Two of those I'm inspired by will make up one character as they come together nicely.
     
  7. Kio
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    Kio Contributing Member

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    To be honest, basing characters off of real people does help a lot. However, I only take certain traits instead of the whole package. I like to make a distinction between the reall people and the ones in fiction. That's why I like to avoid naming my characters anything that sounds familiar. For example, if I have a friend named Josh, I'll be sure to completely avoid that name at all costs.
     
  8. Lilithmoon
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    Lilithmoon Member

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    I do it all the time. If I am going to be blatantly obvious about it I will ask the person first for permission to use them in a story. Most of the times I have done this they readily agree and have found the end product to be flattering. My husband has voiced some minor protests in the past but gets over it quickly. :)

    My stories generally require larger than life personae, so I tend to take the qualities from the people I know and amplify them to a point beyond recognition. I have never had anyone come back to me later and ask if I had written about them.
     
  9. cruciFICTION
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    cruciFICTION Contributing Member Contributor

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    I don't consciously set out to do anything like that. A lot of my characters will take on different traits of myself since that's obviously going to be the easiest thing to write, but I don't really base characters on other people I know.

    I base them on my feelings for people I know sometimes, though. Parts with my main character's love interest will usually be written with more passion since I project my feelings for the woman I love onto the character. It's a special skill of mine, that I can actually fall a little bit in love with some of my characters.
     
  10. funkybassmannick
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    funkybassmannick Contributing Member

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    As other people have said, to make characters more real, it's best to steal a bit from real people. I have this friend named Alec who is really cynical and shows little patience toward "stupid people" but has a warm heart to those that he respects. While he is much more than this sentence describing him, I transfered that description to one of my characters that was already very much like that, and it made my character even stronger.

    I also try to stay away from using real people's names, but every once in a while I come across a name that is absolutely perfect for one of my characters. I haven't been published yet, but if I do I would facebook them and ask for their permission. It's really hard because, while the real person is pretty nice, my character with the same name is really witchy. I'd have to explain that while I used their name, I didn't use their personality.

    Edit: Or did I? Mwahahahaha....
     
  11. spklvr
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    spklvr Contributing Member Contributor

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    Never. I think at most I have based a character on my past self, a self I didn't really care for and wanted to kill off for good. Why don't I do it? I don't know to be perfectly honest. Maybe I just feel a bit uncomfortable using them however I please, especially considering most of my stories involve a lot of sex and bloody murder. I did once write a story about all the dogs in my neighborhood though. I've thought about it many times, how much personality dogs and cats actually have, and decided to write a few short stories about them.
     
  12. StrangerWithNoName
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    StrangerWithNoName Longobard duke

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    I always base my characters on "characters" I met in real life, to make them...well real.

    Not that they're EXACTLY the same, but for instance I take some peculiarities of these people and I use them, something mixing up the traits from different persons in one character or vice versa, for instance I spent some years in academic research and I met various heads of departments, they all shared the same appetite for papers, that in that world mean fortune and fame, at a point that exploited young PhD always put their name first...with the result that they could publish hundreds of articles, thesis etc...a year.

    In my novel I needed a doctor and a brilliant researcher, so to make her realistic I based her on these traits. Of course, she's not a copy of a peculiar individual, but the result of the direct observation of a certain number of persons.
     
  13. StrangerWithNoName
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    StrangerWithNoName Longobard duke

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    Then it's a VIOLENT novel!!!:eek::D
     
  14. Yoshiko
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    Yoshiko Contributing Member Contributor

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    Not quite "people I know", no...

    I base characters on people I don't know. I'm a social person: people inspire me more than places and situations. None of my characters are entirely original, at least not in appearance. I base them on people I've never "met" yet I see often: this can be via music, film, stage-play and TV -- the MC in my current novel was subconsciously named after a funny news presenter I see on TV everyday! It took me months to make the connection -- or people I see (on the train to) college or cashiers or, well, anyone! I don't know any of these people's real personality but I can make an assumption based on what I'm seeing as a third-party observer. Naturally, that's going to be far from the truth. I can make up a story and I doubt it'll match-up with their life. There might be a few coincidences but it won't be exact - not enough that if, for some bizarre reason, they read it that they'd think, "This person is stalking me!"
     
  15. mc1ate1mad1cow
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    mc1ate1mad1cow Member

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    I do that all the time! Kanta- the most adorable maid with crystal white teeth and a mother with flabby, rotund, soft arms are the latest to have entered my horrid writings!
     
  16. The-Joker
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    The-Joker Contributing Member Contributor

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    ROFL

    As for the question. Nope I don't. I base my characters on other fictional characters. My characters are an amalgamation of other characters with a few tweaks to suit the plot.
     
  17. darkhaloangel
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    darkhaloangel Active Member

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    I do this all the time. Although another fun game to play is thinking about what actors you would like to play your characters in the movie version. Then it makes it so much easier to picture the characters when you write about them, and their character traits become more consistant.
     
  18. AvihooI
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    AvihooI Member

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    Cool. I did mean people you know - as in contrast to people you don't know (where both practices are in dichotomy with basing your characters on fringe imagination). For instance, I intend to write a novel in the future where the characters are largely based upon historical personas (e.g. Charlmagne).

    I am however inspired now to look at common strangers and try to fetch a character out of them. ;)
     
  19. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    :redface:

    however, it was written back in my old life, when i didn't know any better...
     
  20. Yoshiko
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    Yoshiko Contributing Member Contributor

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    I understood that you meant people we know in person. However, because I have another opinion on the point I felt I should explain it. :)
     
  21. StrangerWithNoName
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    StrangerWithNoName Longobard duke

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    Actually, that's a sort of joke between maia and me: we had a private conversation and she said she won't read my story because she doesn't want to help people writing violent stories...in short I'm a bad guy!It must be the longobardian blood flowing in my veins.
     
  22. StrangerWithNoName
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    StrangerWithNoName Longobard duke

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    ;););)
     
  23. Norm
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    Norm Contributing Member

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    Yeah. Three main characters and two supporting characters from my current work are ripped directly from people I know with a slight name change and adapted for a different reality. It is fun to base characters off people you don't like or were mean to you and then they get the crap kicked out of them in a fight scene.
     
  24. WhitWhitEatsZombieeees
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    WhitWhitEatsZombieeees New Member

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    Yes, actually I do base some of my characters off of my friends or acquaintances. I mean I don't bring out the negative flaws because I don't wanna anyone to get offended by my accusations in my perspective about them. That just wouldn't be right. Using people you know is a great way in maybe forming your characters and keeping up with their personalities.:)
     
  25. The-Joker
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    The-Joker Contributing Member Contributor

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    Actually a lot of people had that private conversation with Maia.;)
     
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