You know the disclaimer, “Any resemblance of the characters to real people living or dead …” Something along the lines of purely unintentional.
But let’s be frank. The fiction is that you can create a character without having someone real in front of you, somewhere in your past or present. No, you need flesh and blood somewhere. Anything else would be a caricature.
It’s a special problem when you’re composing in a semi-autobiographical vein. You’re trying to be true to the dictum, Write about what you know. The details, especially.
(Oh? What, then, makes it fiction? Other than changing a few dates?)
Admittedly, the personalities work best when you take your inspiration and abstract it, so that a real individual would no longer recognize himself or herself – or those who were no way involved will imagine they, themselves, were.
And, by way of further confession, I’ll note that my most recent outings have led me to new characters lacking immediate introductions for me – but I’ll know them when I meet them if I haven’t already come across them here and there in pieces.
But back to the argument at hand.
I have one character, Nita, who runs through four of my five Hippie Trails novels and is a major character in the new one I’m writing, set years later. She was inspired by impressions I had of a friend’s girlfriend – or more accurately, mostly his impressions conveyed to me at the time – as I sat down to draft a half-dozen years or so later. She becomes a catalyst for much that happens around her.
In reality, we all drifted away.
And then, a few years ago, I met her again.
Nothing like I’d remembered. Or the idealized character in my fiction, now infused with another two or three people I’ve met. The lines blur.
I can say this person never did X, Y, or Z, unlike the character. Or that these two worked together on a controversial project or became known for certain accomplishments. In fact, she doesn’t resemble the other one at all, not anymore, if she ever did.
Still, it’s an eerie feeling. Something other than deja vu. Something still spurring gratitude for the inspiration.
For more on the series, click here.