1. MissBadWolf

    MissBadWolf Member

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    Characters based on real people

    Discussion in 'Character Development' started by MissBadWolf, Jul 31, 2019.

    I am in a rut. I want my MC to have a job, which means co-workers. I thought of having him (and another character, too) work at a place either called Charlie’s or Charley’s sub place at a mall in a town named Huron, with GM HH and assistant manager Ms. Beebop.

    All great and dandy except that there is a Charley’s at a mall in a town named Huron (not the real name) with a GM named Harry (not the real name) and assistant manager Ms Beebop.

    I was able to borrow a hat from a blue haired friend who works there. o_O Actually my character Izzy is inspired by the blue haired gal. She was such a doll to let me take her picture.

    Izzy is not a carbon copy of the blue haired girl, but she suffers from delusions of grandeur that the blue haired girl has.
    Well, I can write the draft with those two characters, HH and Ms Beebop, but I think do I need to change their names more in order to publish it?

    I know that it is one think to base a character on a real celebrity (like Robert Downing Jr or Michael Shanks or etc) but I feel like it is a different thing to base a character on real people who live normal lives?
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Aug 1, 2019
  2. MissBadWolf

    MissBadWolf Member

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    Just noticed that there is a boob display behind the blue haired girl in that photo. It is a maternity store.
     
  3. Foxxx

    Foxxx The Debonair Contributor

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    Easy answer: sufficiently change the names of the characters / location. At the very least, either the names or the locations can stay the same, but *not* both.

    i.e. Change the names to Lizzy and JJ and Ms. Kenzie, but keep the locations the same. Or, keep the names the same but place it in a different state, different city, at a different sub-shop.

    Also, just to double-check, you have permission to post that girl's photo on here right? If not, I'd remove that from the post (mainly because you also included their place of work). Moderators might not like it. If they don't like it, it's nothing personal; they just want to keep the forums from getting tied up in anything legally.

    I don't know. I'm not speaking for our moderators. Only looking out. Could be a privacy issue. Or maybe not. In this day and age of "never forget, never forgive" and seeing doxxing ruin countless people's lives for arguably minor infractions, or no wrong-doing at all, I really regret not being more serious about protecting my private information over the years. I would ask to have such things taken down if they were posted by other people somewhere on the internet without my consent.

    I understand your intent wasn't bad and that those real people probably have nothing to hide. Just something to consider. Take care!
     
    Last edited: Aug 1, 2019
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  4. jannert

    jannert Who? Whooo? Staff Supporter Contributor

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    Yes, @Foxxx is correct. It isn't kosher to post photos you took of people who didn't expect to be posted online. Especially when the location is identifiable. I'm one of the moderators, and I have deleted those photos. The forum doesn't want to be responsible for people being identified without their consent.

    I have also changed the actual names of the people you refer to, and changed the name of the town as well. You are welcome to re-edit and choose names that suit you, but NOT restore the real names of the people or places in question.

    You really need to think more carefully about what you reveal online—especially about other people. The remark that the blue-haired girl suffers from delusions of grandeur? If that got back to the girl in question—and it could easily have done, given that you posted her photo and lots of information about where she works and who she works with—how do you think that would make her feel?

    You should DEFINITELY disguise any real person you write about. This post was not a good start.
     
    Last edited: Aug 1, 2019
  5. big soft moose

    big soft moose The Moderating Moose Staff Supporter Contributor Community Volunteer

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    The general rule of thumb I use for basing on real people is: Name , Physical characteristics, Personality ... pick one
     
  6. MissBadWolf

    MissBadWolf Member

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    Oops my bad. I will be more careful in the future.
     
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  7. MissBadWolf

    MissBadWolf Member

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    The blue haired girl is not named Izzy. They are enough different to be different I think. That comment about delusions of grandeur was tongue in cheek, but I understand. If it was said by anyone else out of context, it might be offensive.
    I am the only one who can say that she has delusions of grandeur and get away with it I guess. I have walked a hundred plus miles in her shoes. Actually I do not know how many miles since I do not have a pedometer.
     
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  8. jannert

    jannert Who? Whooo? Staff Supporter Contributor

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    It's not that you think somebody has delusions of grandeur that was the problem—joking or not. She may well have delusions of grandeur. The problem is that you more or less identified her online ...with a close-up photo, unusual hair colour, town, place of work, name of colleagues, etc. Yikes.

    Even if you thought she was the most wonderful human on the planet, you would not want her to be identified ...unless you are prepared for a LOT of flack, including lawsuits.

    Yeah, by all means use people you know as models for stories BUT you need to ensure nobody can positively identify them. And that can get tricky.

    I've gone so far as to flip gender in one of my important characters. She is actually based on a guy I used to know well, but nobody reading my novel and knowing anything about me is going to figure out who that was. (I hope.) It was just his personality I made use of.
     
    Last edited: Aug 1, 2019
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  9. deadrats

    deadrats Contributor Contributor

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    I use real names and places with both my fiction and creative nonfiction. I honestly thought my fiction would never get published so maybe I was playing with fire a bit, but I'm honestly not all that worried. Some people don't read like at all. And I think the closer fiction gets to the truth, the better. I don't mean writing true stories and passing them off as fiction, but if you stick a real person into your stories it can make them seem more alive. Maybe name changes are a good thing, but the chances of publishing seemed so far off at the time that I kept a name and character pretty close to the real deal. Oops. Or maybe not because I did sell that story.

    I also write a good amount of creative nonfiction. This can get tricky because a lot of places won't let you change names and locations. There are ways to write around these sort of things, but you can't just call Dave Bob. It still has to remain nonfiction. I had to get permission from the publisher to use a lover's nickname from one place. And I think it's common practice with creative nonfiction to keep even the small details accurate. I worry about getting published and readers far more than I do about lawsuits.
     
  10. Foxxx

    Foxxx The Debonair Contributor

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    Yup, just be careful in the future! Issues of privacy are really worth studying even if you only bother attaining a lay-man's knowledge. It will help keep yourself protected, and others.

    Things get a little trickier if you're doing journalism or writing non-fiction. Journalists are generally the most protected from backlash; it's their job to report the news, so long as nobody requested to be anonymous, and so long as it's clearly of benefit to the broader community (the name and photo of the suspect who robbed a gas station at gunpoint that morning, for instance).

    Regarding fiction, as Deadrats said, I guess that's a matter of how much you fear a lawsuit. I actually don't know how a publisher might react if they discovered that everyone and every place in your novel was real. Maybe they wouldn't care if you were writing about something from 10-20 years ago. Maybe it would somehow be in breach of your contract. Maybe there is some clause that exempts them from responsibility in the case of a lawsuit, so long as they were unaware. If I'm not mistaken, the person initiating such a lawsuit has to be able to prove there were "damages" which isn't always easy to do, so maybe it wouldn't even matter.

    Anyway, you get the point. Good luck with your writing!
     
    Last edited: Aug 1, 2019
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