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Wednesday, October 4, 2017

#IWSG: Personal Info in Characters

It's the 1st Wednesday. Happy Insecure Writers Support Group Day. IWSG is the brainchild Ninja Captain Alex J. Cavanaugh.

Purpose: To share and encourage. Writers can express doubts and concerns without fear of appearing foolish or weak. Those who have been through the fire can offer assistance and guidance. It’s a safe haven for insecure writers of all kinds! 
Thanks, Alex, for starting this group and keeping it going. And thanks to this month's awesome hosts:   Olga Godim, Chemist Ken, Jennifer Hawes, and Tamara Narayan!

This has been a productive month. I don't feel very insecure so this month's question provides my topic.

Have you ever slipped any of your personal information into your characters, either by accident or on purpose?

Sure. In my first published science fiction romance, Switched, Jessie (the main character) compares the stiff-backed hero to her teacher, Mr. Nutt. That was my second grade teacher's name. Actually, he taught kindergarten to eighth grade, in a one-room school. I don't recall what he looked like. But I do remember him being very stern. When some of the eighth graders were sixteen or older, he had to be strict.

In my PI mystery series, Alex O'Hara often repeats some of my opinions. In The Case of the Meddling Mama, Nick's (Alex's main squeeze) mother returns from Arizona without his father and moves in with Alex. Mama's reason (besides her husband ignoring her)? Everything out there is brown. No green. She wants four seasons. She misses her flowers and grass. For that character, I used my initial reaction to Arizona plus complaints from women I know whose husbands have retired.

I hope you've had a great month and that October is even better.

 Click here to find others on the Insecure Writers Support Group Blog Hop. Or go to IWSG on Facebook to see who’s blogging today. 



45 comments:

  1. Hi,
    I really believe it's unavoidable to not let something personal slip into your writing.
    Have a great October too.
    Shalom aleichem,
    Pat G @ EverythingMustChange

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  2. My personal experiences definitely slip into my characterizations as well. Great post! http://www.raimeygallant.com

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    1. Thanks, Raimey. I don't think we can help injecting ourselves into our writing.

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  3. I used the small town in Iowa where I had to go for the ex's family reunions as a setting for one of my contemporary series suspenses. Even took notes that last time I was there so I'd remember the particulars. I've set books on my cruises, on my trip to Mexico. Hey, the world is our personal reference as writers.

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    1. Good point, Nancy. You know where I got the idea for the setting for my cozy mysteries. Living along the Lake Michigan shoreline gives me lots of ideas.

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  4. There are plenty of little things in my life that makes it into my books. Sometimes they are quips or observations that I have no excuse to say to people in my life. LOL

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    1. LOL Good one, Pat. My characters always have the perfect comeback. Unlike me, who thinks of it hours later.

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  5. Adding excellent insight into how your characters tick. :-)

    Anna from elements of emaginette

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  6. I think using some personal information is great, and for those in the know, adds something fun to the story. It seems you've found a nice balance of using personal information without creating carbon copies of yourself or those you know and passing them off as crated characters. It was a skill I had to work on as I liked to include myself and others I knew in all my early work.

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    1. Some of my characters are the "me" I wish I was--courageous, daring, a bit of a smart alack. (The latter I have to tone down in real life.)

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  7. Great post.What's that saying about someone doing a writer wrong? Watch out, you'll end up dead in my novel..or something to like that. I love sneaking some of me in characters and wonder if friends realize it.

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  8. Some of my secondary characters are modeled after people I know, but I'd never tell them that!

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  9. Little elements of places or childhood memories are inevitable in good fiction. They make the narrative alive.

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  10. I enjoyed hearing your concrete examples, Diane. It's really helpful to hear how other writers write. I'm laughing at thought of the retired husbands remark. I have one, but so far it's gone pretty well. Your sci-fi romance sounds like fun!

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    1. Thanks. I'm lucky our retirement has gone well, too.

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  11. Stories from other people and their experiences can definitely be useful in writing, too. Use what you know, but don't be afraid to use what you know through other people, too!

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  12. LOL love the view on AZ. My in-laws live out there, and my mother-in-law often talks about wanting to be some place with 4 seasons.

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    1. AZ has a beauty all its own. It took several visits before I saw that.

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  13. I think I've used my teachers' names. :)

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  14. Yes, I think the writer's opinions end up in many a story, Diane. Thanks so much for sharing this with your followers. I'm like Meka's mother-in-law. I need four seasons to be happy. All best to you, Diane!

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    1. Me, too. It is nice to eat Thanksgiving dinner outdoors, though.

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  15. Writing is so personal that I think it would be hard to avoid letting your own experiences leak into your writing. And why would you want to? Family, friends, work acquaintances, the clerk at the grocery store, etc. - all present unique ideas just begging to be written into a story! Great post, Diane!

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    1. Thanks, Sandra. Even overhearing a conversation in a restaurant could turn into an idea for a story.

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  16. It's always so nice to hear when people are feeling secure and strong. :)

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  17. You lived in Arizona? Too bad it wasn't New Mexico. The state is GORGEOUS! A mix of mountains and high desert. And the most beautiful sunsets in the world.

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    1. A month at a time, visiting our son. NM has striking landscape. We've driven thru there many times.

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  18. I love that you used a real teacher's name. I often name minor characters for people in my writing group. @mirymom1 from
    Balancing Act

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    1. He's probably the only teacher that made a real impression on me. Scared me to death. LOL

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  19. Is it possible to NOT include real-life elements in one's fiction?
    I'm sure there's always an overlap of sorts...whether deliberate or accidental.

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    1. You're probably right, Michelle. I don't intentionally add personal info. It sort of comes out.

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  20. You've just reminded me that while my characters may have some traits from people in real life, a lot of their names are actually taken from people I know. I'd better be careful where and how I use the names, if these stories are published! Even if the characters are nothing like their namesakes :-)

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  21. That's a good way to insert the personal into fiction. :)

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  22. I like to do that too, use what I know. I hope it gives the piece a more real feeling. Thanks for dropping by!

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    1. That's what I'm after, a real feeling. Thanks to you, too.

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  23. Just came back from Arizona! Sedona was gorgeous, but Phoenix would definitely take some getting used to, especially if you're accustomed to changing seasons.

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    1. I agree about Sedona. Flagstaff is too with the trees and mountains. My son was in Phoenix-area, so we spent a lot of time there. Definitely, hard to get used to. It's the area where my character lived who wanted seasons. Like me.

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