Wednesday, March 16, 2011

RTW: Who's in your book?

Road Trip Wednesday is a "Blog Carnival," where YA Highway's contributors post a weekly writing- or reading-related question and answer it on our own blogs. Just answer the prompt on your own blog and leave a link in the comments on YA Highway.


I never have based a character completely off someone I know. But I do sometimes borrow specific traits or quirks. I gave a character in my WIP a fear of worms, borrowed from a college bestie (And I now know multiple people who fear worms! You silly worm fearers.) Most of the time, the parents in my manuscripts share something in common with my own parents—if only in their attitudes towards their children (I have a really hard time writing bad parents. I blame/thank my own parents for this). The school cafeteria in my previous WIP is, in my head, exactly the same as the one in my high school. One of the adults who appears briefly in my WIP has a personality reminiscent of the mother of one of my childhood friends, who always had this air of importance about her. I’m sure I’m not the only one who had a friend with a parent like this. I named a character after my sister, but gave said character none of my sister’s personality traits. I just got tired of naming people. I did use an expression earlier in the same WIP that my sister uses frequently: “Are you out of your tree?”

And probably most notably, I think often my characters take things from me. I work really hard not to give them my actual personality, but sometimes they have little life events in common with me. In my previous WIP, the main character collects insects and pins them to a board in her room. I didn’t have a board, but I had a piece of Styrofoam, and I collected insects as a child—although not quite so ambitiously as this character. In my current WIP, I gave my main character the memory of a scarring kiss based on awkwardness and a weird tongue, and this I definitely borrowed from my own memory bank, because how can I not share that teenage awkwardness with my characters?

I’ve definitely used more things than that, but those are the ones that come to me most immediately as I’m writing this post. Sometimes, people or things happen in your life that just need to be fictionalized. It’s only fair to the universe.  

11 comments:

Jennifer Hoffine said...

"Sometimes, people or things happen in your life that just need to be fictionalized. It’s only fair to the universe." Agreed! Though I'm not sure the non-writing universe always feels the same :)

Erinn said...

I totally agree with Jennifer. Yes somethings need to be fictionalized. yes yes yes. Without reality we couldn't have fiction.

Sarah Enni said...

"I think often my characters take things from me. I work really hard not to give them my actual personality, but sometimes they have little life events in common with me." YES. I do this so much.

Also, I just read that bad kiss scene and ewww poor Kaitlin!! lol

Abby Stevens said...

Sometimes, people or things happen in your life that just need to be fictionalized.

That should be the tagline of the whole of this week's RTW.

Jess said...

I am super curious now about the weird tongue. Sounds... interesting... ;)

And I agree with the others: that last paragraph is pure brilliance.

Alicia Gregoire said...

I agree about reality being fictionalized, but even with pulling from reality, you need to be prepared to stretch it.

Katy said...

"I think often my characters take things from me. I work really hard not to give them my actual personality, but sometimes they have little life events in common with me." ME TOO! And I can't write bad parents either. I just have no knowledge base to draw from. Thanks a lot, Mom and Dad! :)

Pam Harris said...

I'm like you--I take snippets from my school memories and insert them into my stories. I've attended like 4 high schools (weird, I know), so I have a plethora of cafeterias to choose from. :)

KO: The Insect Collector said...

Yes! for insect-collecting protags.

Kathy Bradey said...

I totally agree with you, love! There are situations and people that are crying out to be immortalised in word form!

Jennifer Walkup said...

I agree. I def take traits from people I know or observe and def from myself. And yes, a lot of the hs descriptions like cafeterias and libraries and hallways are probably based off my own school experiences, too.:)