Friday, September 12, 2008

Do you really want to be in my novel? Really?

I have a sticker that I got during Nano last year hanging in my cube (yes, I’m a cube farm dweller) at my day job. It says “Be nice to me or I’ll put you in my novel.” I like the sticker, but let me tell you that I have never put a single real person in my novel. Not once. There have been some people that I have been tempted to put in my novel and then have them die a horrible, horrible death, but I’ve never actually done it.

Its not even that I wouldn’t put real people in my novel or that I don’t want to put real people in my novel. It is that I can’t put them in my novel. I can start off with real people, but the characters tend to take on a life of their own and become unique in my head.

True story. About 10 years ago now, my father’s mother told me that my grandfather used to write her letters during World War II. One of them was on a roll of butcher paper. They weren’t really “dating” before the war, but when he came home they got married almost immediately. My father was born September 21, 1946, if that tells you anything.

I thought this was a great story so I resolved to write it as fiction. I planned on using my grandparents as characters. Almost immediately, my mind started twisting the story and the characters, supposedly based on my grandparents, in my head. My main female character is now pregnant by my main male character’s deceased cousin and my main male character is going to suffer a horrible wound in Africa. None of that actually happened. My grandmother joined the WAVES and served as a weapons inspector in Washington. My grandfather served until the end of the war, fighting in Africa, Italy, and France. He was a sergeant in the 2nd Armored Division and served under Patton. Even more than what happened to my characters is that my characters don’t act or think like my grandparents thought. This may be a good thing because who wants their grandparents or parents living in their heads like my characters do.

I haven’t written this book yet, but I still intend to. The novel that I wrote last year during Nano set up the world in which I’m going to put these characters. Maybe I’ll write in 2009 and dedicate it to my grandparents and their great stories, but then again maybe not.

My advice to anyone that asks an author to put them in their novel is…..Be afraid….Be very afraid. Because writers like to torture their characters and you might wind up pregnant, alone, poor, and trapped on an alien planet with only a dog that shifts into man form during full moons for a companion.


haricot vert said...

i'd be worried about sticking too close to who they are in real life, and then get flack for "slander."

purpleprose 78 said...