A Breakthrough, and a Lesson Learned

Tuesday, March 31, 2009, 9:03 PM

After last week's angst over the difficult sophomore novel, I have hopefully made a breakthrough. Just airing the problem seems to have helped a great deal, as tends to be the way. Unusually for me, taking the more structured approach of mapping out the plot on index cards made all the difference. And a couple big twists presented themselves in the process, so a win all round.

And a lesson learned...

Be very careful about basing minor characters on people you know. They might not find it as cool as you do. In fact, they might find it upsetting and offensive. Let's chalk that one up to experience, shall we?

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Blogger Gordon Harries said...

Ow. Yeah, that'd be the opposite of good.

9:45 PM  
Blogger Jamie Eyberg said...

Will file that away for future reference. Thanks for the tip.

10:02 PM  
Blogger Josephine Damian said...

I take full credit for the index card breakthrough (even if you figured it out before I mentioned it).

2. The mistake isn't basing any character on a real person, it's telling them about it! Or being truthful when they say, Hey, that character sounds a lot like me! It's not me, is it?

When in doubt, lie.

3. (and most important) Hope you're staying safe - saw things are quite "troublesome" there today.

11:01 PM  
Blogger Stacy said...

Glad to hear you got past the valley.

11:23 PM  
Blogger Sandra Cormier said...

I second Josie -- you can't create a character without drawing from your own friends and family.

If someone thinks you wrote about them, tell them to get over themselves. Or lie. Or mix character traits from several people so they can't figure it out.

I have the opposite problem. Everyone insists that I write them INTO my books!

4:08 AM  
Blogger Josephine Damian said...

Chumplet - Disagree and don't believe I said that. I say it's possible (and a better idea) to create characters from scratch - but if you base them on a real person it's best not to tell that person.

I find that my best, most fully realized characters are the ones I totally made up.

When you know someone, you tend to see the traits that you really hate or you really like, and that's why characters based on real people tend to be rather one dimensional.

6:06 AM  
Blogger McKoala said...

Sorry I missed your crisis, but glad you are over it.

Feel free to base a character on me, as long as she is stunningly beautiful, astonishingly witty and amazingly clever. That's a-ok by me. In fact, under those circumstances, I'd even let you use my name.

4:07 AM  
Blogger Sandra Cormier said...

Some of my darker, creepier characters were definitely not based on real people, thank goodness.

However, I like to use a woven tapestry of the characteristics of people I admire in my books.

And I still wouldn't tell them. I they figure it out, I'll just play dumb.

5:12 AM  
Anonymous Nancy Hightower said...

Well, I think we create characters based on a mix of who we are--our shadow sides as much as our strengths--as well as who we know. And don't forget those archetypes that make their way into the mix--which is fine as long as their not cliched archies. Ya know?

Glad you broke through the "terrible twos" as I like to call them (working on my 2nd as well while agent subs the 1st).

9:43 PM  
Blogger Ello - Ellen Oh said...

Oooooh, errrr, yes. sorry dude. But good lesson!

4:10 AM  

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