Channeling People You Know

Happy Sunday to everyone. I hope you are having a good weekend. I often wonder how many of your fiction writers out there ever channel people you know when creating characters for your book? Some may be afraid to admit it because they don’t want those people to find out. I mean the last thing you want somebody to know is that you modelled a serial killer after your next- door neighbor. It may make a great story but could be most embarrassing for your neighbor. Is it wrong to use real people? I say no and let me tell you why.

When creating a character, you want him or her to seem as real as possible. Using a real person’s personality to use as a model to give the characters more depth can help in a big way. It can make people look at that character and feel like they knew them personally, little does the reader know that they probably do know them. It could be the mailman, your child’s fifth grade teacher, Joe the cop that hangs out at the local donut shop, or even one of your parents, a brother, sister or any family member. Maybe even a best friend. But it’s important to never use actual names of the people we are channeling to protect their privacy and avoid any potential lawsuits. You wouldn’t want people thinking that Joe the cop really does rape unsuspecting women when stopping them for traffic violations.

Sometimes we may find ourselves channeling people we know unconsciously. Sometimes people have a certain person in their lives that brings them nothing but pain and misery. An abuser can take many forms in our books. Because if you have ever been a victim than you have a specific person in mind when writing about an abusive character in your story and they may resemble someone you have dealt with in your past. Their personality traits can easily leak into the traits of the abusive character. Your character will have either similar traits or be exactly like your abuser. Sometimes all it takes is one personality trait to shape the entire character’s persona such as being too controlling which is a trait that many abusers have in common. If it helps the character become more realistic in the reader’s mind that’s all that matters and that is what you want to strive for in character development.

Channeling people we know can help bring a boring character to life and keep all your characters from being too similar. Our characters are what make the story and can influence how the reader feels and thinks. Why? Because it’s based on people we know or used to know. Why not channel real people? After all, to us writers, our characters are real people. Until next time and have a happy Thanksgiving…