I was very careful the first time I wrote a book not to include anyone I knew in it. There were no common names. No likenesses or characteristics either. I have to say... I didn't know those characters at all.
It wasn't until the third book of my first trilogy that I added a bit of someone, and laughed until I cried. Dear Trevor drinks down a bottle of water and chucks the empty bottle into the back seat of his car. I thought I was going to die from the hysterics of this. Yes, this is my husband! But what was even funnier was the moment I mentioned it people began saying, "what have you seen my car?" This was that little bit that made Trevor human and people related to him.
So it began... can you find yourself in one of my books? I suppose the funnier part is mutual friends might see you there, but you wont. Then I know I've done my job well. His eyes dart around the room as she's holding a conversation with him. Experiences make the atmosphere jump out at the reader. "What-are-you-doing? Get-the-puck!" If you close your eyes and imagine cinder block walls and the cold of an ice rink mixed with sweat and adrenaline, you might understand what my weekends smell like.
I have the occasional name being dropped cousin Anne. There are quirks I wish I had of my own, she thought as she ran another three miles through town. But no matter what I began to add, my characters became more real.
I have a best friend. Her name is Carrie. I have been able to build from that beautiful 34 year old relationship between her and I and our families for so many of my characters. I am married to my soul mate who would stand next to me no mater what scars I bare. I have children that would take care of me if I were sick. I have a wonderful mother, father, and sister in which I can draw from when I need strong family traits, and yes... I have a few crazy relatives which makes writing the quirky parts about families easy too.
Now, as I sit here thinking about the characters in my books, I can tell you where every trait came from. I'm a big advocate about writing where you know, well I believe you should write who you know as well. Perhaps I won't point fingers at the bad habit I put on page 147, but I'm sure someone made me think about it.
If you ask to be in my book you'd better be very specific as to "whom" you want to be. I do have a black belt in karate and I'm not afraid to use it on your character if I see fit.
Observing the world this way, seeing every detail in every person, has opened my eyes. To be honest I think I'm a much better person. In fact, I think I tolerate everyone more. Maybe it's because I can kill you off in my next novel, or maybe you are just a character.
So, I wonder which traits I'll add to my next new WIP Never Saw it Coming about the Goth and the Geek. Hmmm, now how far do I need to search for the Geek? Not far. I only have to go climb into bed with him and decide how I will incorporate all that perfectness into my next hero.
Happy Reading (and observing)