"Are you sure that character wasn't based on me?":

Total posts: [30]
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Obsidian Proboscidean
As you can probably tell from the title, I've been asked this question quite a bit. And all of the time, the answer is "no." But they always insisted on asking, "Are you sure?"

I try hard not to base characters completely on any one person from real life (I may take bits and pieces, but they don't all end up on the same character, so you can't recognize it as one specific person). But sometimes I worry that I've been failing at that, and that might be problematic because I'm pretty sure people sue for things like that.

It's hard to feel like you're not doing something wrong when someone says something to the effect of, "Hey, that character is a Tomboy who likes rock music like me. Are you sure it's not based on me?" But all I can respond with is a weak, "I'm completely sure it isn't you at all."

Does anyone else have this happen to them? It doesn't happen as much to me anymore now that I'm out of college, but people might be thinking it and just not saying anything (which means I have no idea when I may be messing up and accidentally writing a real person into the story).
I'm an elephant. Rurr.
2 nrjxll13th Dec 2011 09:21:27 PM , Relationship Status: Not war
If they won't take no for an answer, it's not really your problem.
3 chihuahua013th Dec 2011 09:22:41 PM from Standoff, USA , Relationship Status: I LOVE THIS DOCTOR!
Writer's Welcome Wagon
Just keep on answering "no". More than one blog advises this, since most characters are flawed.

4 Dec13th Dec 2011 09:28:02 PM from The Dance Floor
Stayin' Alive
This is when you ask them "Are you also [list of features they obviously don't share]?"
Nemo enim fere saltat sobrius, nisi forte insanit
5 annebeeche13th Dec 2011 09:29:55 PM from by the long tidal river
watching down on us
No, I never had this problem.

There's also a reason why the "any resemblance to real persons or events is completely coincidental" disclaimer exists.
Banned entirely for telling FE that he was being rude and not contributing to the discussion.
I shall watch down from the goon heavens.
6 NoirGrimoir13th Dec 2011 09:40:16 PM from San Diego, CA , Relationship Status: Anime is my true love
Rabid Fujoshi
I don't really base my characters wholesale off of people I know, and even if I did no one I know reads my fanfic/original fiction anyway, so this hasn't ever happened to me. Lots of advice places for authors says never to admit a character was based off a person you know, because said person might get upset without how you portrayed them.
SPATULA, Supporters of Page Altering To Urgently Lead to Amelioration (supports not going through TRS for tweaks and minor improvements.)
I circumvent this by basing everyone on myself.

And better than thy stroke; why swellest thou then?
8 chihuahua013th Dec 2011 09:46:12 PM from Standoff, USA , Relationship Status: I LOVE THIS DOCTOR!
Writer's Welcome Wagon
I usually don't base my characters off of real people.

I usually base my characters off of other characters. They sort of evolve until they're different from one another. For example: Finn evolved from Justin, who evolved from Joel, who evolved from a roleplay character I forgot the name of, who evolved from yet another character—and then you get Samuel, who lacks the personality of any of his successors.

I've written based on people and characters.

Write Who You Know and all that.
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10 Exelixi13th Dec 2011 10:07:21 PM from Alchemist's workshop , Relationship Status: Armed with the Power of Love
I get this question a lot. The answer isn't just "no," it's "stop being such a goddamn narcissist. I mean, I started writing these five years ago."
Mura: -flips the bird to veterinary science with one hand and Euclidean geometry with the other-
11 nrjxll13th Dec 2011 10:14:30 PM , Relationship Status: Not war
I never have based, and never will base, a character off of someone I know. I have, however, named characters after people I know, so that muddles the issue a bit.
12 Night13th Dec 2011 10:21:43 PM from Jaburo , Relationship Status: Drift compatible
The future of warfare in UC.
There are deliberate traits mooched from historical people. I've actually tried to base on real people I know, but it invariably does not work. They don't come out remotely the same.
Nous restons ici.
13 HeavyDDR13th Dec 2011 11:29:06 PM from Central Texas
Who's Vergo-san.
Maybe a few qualities, but never have any of my characters been completely based off people I know. Sometimes it's even a shame if I meet someone who shares the same name as a character. It feels weird.

Only a couple times have people asked if a character is based off them. Aside from name, never. One kinda flew over my head - I mentioned a character named Marky in a Facebook post, and my friend Mark happily goes "I'M MARKY." Another character, who doesn't even go by her first name, was changed to Monica to reflect one of my friend's request to be in the novel. She's happy with it, but the character is nothing like her.
I'm pretty sure the concept of Law having limits was a translation error. -Wanderlustwarrior
14 dRoy13th Dec 2011 11:38:45 PM from The Happy Place , Relationship Status: A cockroach, nothing can kill it.
Perpetually clueless
Say no. I mean, how is s/he going to know, anyways.
Mother of god...You turned one of the hardest and best Champions into an absolute joke. - Zelenal
Welcome, traveller, welcome to Omsk
A guy I knew did rather annoyingly keep thinking characters in my stories were based on him, dialogues were based on things he and I had talked about, etc. It actually got on my nerves more than it reasonably should. As if writers don't use that little thing known as "imagination", but just stick a bunch of expies of their friends in a story and call it a day.

I studied literature at university, and needless to say, that little experience taught me not to be so quick to attribute everything in a work to the author's personal experiences. Writers make stuff up; that's why they're writers.

edited 14th Dec '11 1:48:12 AM by DoktorvonEurotrash

It does not matter who I am. What matters is, who will you become? - motto of Omsk Bird
I've never consciously based a character off of anyone from my life. If I do ever realize that a character is similar to a teacher or someone I know, It's usually, like, one trait or something else superficial. I usually make it so that the characters have some kind of a trait that evokes a similar reaction from others to a real life person's trait- usually without using anything resembling the person's trait in question -thus largely sidestepping the issue.

At least I think.

I also do not name characters off of real people; that's just a little too much association.

edited 14th Dec '11 9:43:56 AM by CrystalGlacia

"Whenever I feel like I know how computers work, I go to class and leave feeling like I'm wearing my pants on my head, eating paste."
17 EnemyMayan14th Dec 2011 09:20:38 AM from A van down by the river
I based the protagonists of The Sex Star physically off of women I know or have previously known, but their last names and personalities were changed to protect their Real Life identities.

In many cases, it's a flattering portrayal because the literary personality is better than the Real Life version... I initially devised the fantasy that the story's plot is based off of to punish women who pissed me off.

In my other work, no. I've named characters after people I know in real life, but the characters are always way different.
Jesus saves. Gretzky steals, he scores!
Occasionally Smart
I have based characters on/named them after some of my friends, but only in situations where they're aware of it. Two of them are characters in a just-for-fun Star Trek fanfic series, and the other is simply named after a friend's nickname but isn't based on her. So there's nothing really awkward about either of those, since it's intentional and they know. However, I'm not sure I'm happy with the nickname decision, since I don't want my friend to think I based the character entirely on her.
He's like fire and ice and rage. He's ancient and forever. He burns at the centre of time. Rory punched him in the face.
19 nrjxll14th Dec 2011 12:23:43 PM , Relationship Status: Not war
There are deliberate traits mooched from historical people.

Interesting. I didn't know anyone else did this.
Lots of people do. For instance, Series Of Unfortunate Events has corrupt Principal Nero.
21 nrjxll14th Dec 2011 12:42:24 PM , Relationship Status: Not war
I don't think that's quite the same thing.

And actually, I may be misunderstand: do you mean that you have characters who are actual expys (or whatever the right trope would be) of historical figures, or merely that you borrowed one or two personality traits? The former is pretty common, but I consider it lazy writing. The latter (which is what I do) isn't something I know of being used much.
I did it once as a gag.
Several of my characters, at least personality-wise, are somewhat based off of friends of mine, and there's been cases where I've co-written characters with personality traits of some of my friends, alongside said friends.
I've decided that I need more wacky friends to base characters off. Maybe that's a lack of imagination on my part, but you work with the materials you have - there's only so much I can pull out of my own head before I start having to ask myself that annoying question.

I don't think there's any problem with it so long as you can trust the person to understand that your character is BASED on them, not some kind of comment ABOUT them. But most people are insecure and self-centred, so I can see the benefits of a pro-deny-everything policy.
Occasionally Smart
as you can trust the person to understand that your character is BASED on them, not some kind of comment ABOUT them.
That is an excellent point.
He's like fire and ice and rage. He's ancient and forever. He burns at the centre of time. Rory punched him in the face.

Total posts: 30
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