How many of you have seen the sweatshirt with “Be careful or I’ll put you in my novel”? I really want to read a book by the person who came up with that slogan – I bet we have some things in common.
I usually try to write unrecognizable characters, but sometimes I really want to insert verbatim that snotty exchange I just had with *friend/family member* into my wip. I want them to read it when it’s published and to hear themselves the way I hear them. I want to eviscerate them in my novel-world. I am Creator and Destroyer when I write, and as clichéd as it might be, with ‘great power comes great responsibility’. While I write out my rage and my tears, I am unstoppable and uncontrollable. In real life I can remain cowardly and passive-aggressive.
What’s the harm, right? I take my pain and my anger and I unleash it on people who only live in my head. This seems like a much better path than brutal confrontation, and it usually gets the job done. But what about later, when that character’s spiel or their unlovable traits or what have you become central to the story and it’s impossible to write them back out again? Those who write from an intensely personal place do so with the knowledge that they are figuratively airing their dirty laundry with the hopes that it will be read by the masses.
The masses are fine. What about that person who ticked you off/inspired you? What if by writing those words out, you have healed, forgiven, and moved on? Those words, one would hope, will live on indefinitely.
What responsibility do writers have to the real life people who inspire despicable characters? Is it remotely feasible to try and avoid writing recognizable personalities? I know from experience that some people in my life will ‘read themselves into’ whatever character they feel like. People (myself included) often have a very difficult time reading work by a friend or family member without thinking ‘Was that me? Are you trying to say something?’
Plausible deniability at this time is probably more worthwhile than a titillating scene…right?