Wednesday, 21 May 2014

Write What You Know Part 1

Hi all!

I thought it'd be interesting to give you an insight into where my characters came from.
To be honest, sometimes I really don't know, which is a touch embarrassing. I think that's because 3 of the main characters were based of people I never really got along with, more than just acquaintances. In fact, I actually though for a long time that Josh, Joel and Mitch hated me.
I wouldn't be surprised if Mitch still does, which is a ironic seeing he is my favourite of the 5.Yes, I was that unoriginal I didn't change the first names (This explains my two names starting with "J" thing, but anyone who's read the book know that is resolved...)
Ryan was based of one of the only people I still talk to from primary school (13 years is a long time to know someone), but as we don't attend the same school I could use my powers of creative license without feeling weird (reshaping your BFF is harder than you think).
Alex's name comes from someone at my work. The character's a bit of a conglomerate-sometimes there's a bit of me in there, and other times it's not even close. I always love the 'nerdy' kind of characters so that's his job. Originally he was meant to be the main character (I think his name is still said the most by word count... Ryan's is the least, sorry), but in the end I wanted it to be Joel.
Ryan, as a matter of fact, was going to be cut. Managing 5 main characters is hard (notice how most other author do less than 3. Think Harry Potter, Hunger Games, Divergent...), and in the first draft Ryan was there just 'because he was at the start'. I thought about killing him off permanently in the lab scene, but realised that he does have a purpose, and actually the most developed character by the end (I think). Having 5 mains also means lots and lots of 'he said', which I don't like, hence the massive amounts of scenes where there are only 2 of them at once.
Now, I suppose you're thinking 'Why did you use people you knew'?
Well, I find it hard to make things up. As in, I need a base of some kind (note how on YouTube my story series use already established themes like Thomas and Doctor Who, but often are very different to the original source) from real life. By using people I knew, I could focus less on building these characters, but instead of building their stories. It also gave me more room to think about the plot, without worrying about what character X looked like, because I had a clear character in my mind.
Saying that, much of the basic characteristics of the 4 that aren't Alex (looks, first impressions... from what I remember, Mitch ate a lot, and Josh still is a very good soccer football player... but we'll leave that for the sequel!).
Now, most of the characters have the names of people I know well. But these are all the fringe characters-Mellissa was made up also as it was too hard for me to use the name of someone I knew really well or saw often as I always thought of the real person, not the character. Eileesha and Thea, on the other hand, are very close to me, hence their secondary character status.
Does that impact on the story?
I don't think so. In fact, I think it gave me more room to add to the extremely complex plot line! I can assure you that there is nobody who could sit down and read it and say 'So that's this person' because I'm the only one who knows, so there's no fear on my part of someone being like 'OMG look what you did to x'.
My message to you is-don't be afraid to use what you know. In fact, exploit it. Authors don't create new things, we retell what has already been told in a fresh way. So, if you need a basis for a surfer character, and you know that your second cousin is one, why not?
Anyway, let me know whether you agree.

P.S. Don't forget to join the mailing list to get the epilogue that was cut from the book, which I'll be mailing out soon!

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