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Fictionalizing Friends. -- by Andrew Mcqueen

Hi all bright minds of the Circle.

I've seen the subject of basing characters on your friends come up in the circle once or twice and I know writers get squemish at the idea because of legal suits from them. Yes, that can happen.

For the writer to know how to base a character on someone is to have the person's permission to proceed with the process. On the matter of facing legal hot water, comic book visionary Todd MacFarlane is an example. He broke that rule when he created the crime boss Tony Twist after the hockey player of that name, and boy was he in trouble. Heaven forbid anyone in this circle will join him as a cautionary tale of creativity. 

I asked a few CC members to participate in a writing prompt that based a character, respectively, on each of them. I asked certain questions on their likes and dislikes and took notes. When I got done with the dialogues, some of them were amazed at my ideas while others politely declined. In exchange I volunteered myself and one of them turned me into a dead body in a crime novel as I became a love interst in a YA romance in another member's WIP. (You just gotta love the word "May I?")smiley Anyone asking "Imjustdru, are you saying there's a way of going about this matter?" Yes, there is. The answer lies in this writing prompt from *Writing for Comics & Graphic Novels with Peter David. The steps are simple. Ask your fellow crit partner, co-worker, BFF, anyone you know. Then move on to these steps.

  1. Write a 100 word first-person narrative in which the character you based your friend upon is describing him or herself.
  2. Write a 100 word first-person narrative in which that same character is describing you
  3. Write a 100 word first-person narrative in which the same character is describing a mutual acquiantance.
  4. When you're done with the essays, show them off to your buddy (buddies) you based upon. According to David, most people won't recognize characters based on themselves. So if they find your work unflattering, move on to 5.
  5. Find new friends.  

With this exercise, you have an honest way of handling the matter. Go ahead, take a partner and have fun creating their fictional opposites!

Happy Creations!

*Source: Writing for Comics & Graphic Novels with Peter David. pg. 49    

Posted by Andrew Mcqueen 14 Jun 2014 at 03:25
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Responses to this blog

Jennie2005 15 Jun 2014 at 20:15  
I really like this.
I think i will give it a try.
Jberkowitz 16 Jun 2014 at 07:16  
Yeah, I actually handled this in a completely different way. I think I'm okay.
Imjustdru 16 Jun 2014 at 14:21  
Wow, J. That's how it happened? At least you two are on the same page again. Best of luck to you both!
Jberkowitz 16 Jun 2014 at 19:05  
Thank you, Dru! It's wonderful. We're closer than ever, and she's now working on her own novel, without any input from me. My daughter is amazing.
Irondomain 20 Jun 2014 at 12:55  
I usually copy people from real life exactly, even with their real name. That's just me.
Imjustdru 21 Jun 2014 at 18:18  
If I may ask: Are they okay with it, Irondomain?
Bean60 28 Jun 2014 at 09:24  
When I started my novel, I wanted a group of friends whose names were different, just as the characters would be. Just so happens that I have friends like that. We've been friends for over 40 years - through everything life could through at us. I tried using different names, but it didn't play right. So, I asked each one individually whether I could use their real name and each said yes. So, if and when it ever gets published, it will be dedicated to them with the proviso that the names and people are real, the characters are not.

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