Where Do You Get the REAL You Put Into Your Characters? Guest Blogger: Sandra Tilley


A question readers often ask me is "Are your characters based on real people?" 
My answer: yes and no.

Of course I take personalities, physical features, mental qualities, etc., from people I know, but I also rely on the ideas in my head. I don't choose a person to be a character in my book; a character chooses me. Then I get to sort through my options and decide who suffers from low self-esteem or who can toss a football fifty yards or who gets to be the skinny, hot chick.

I never thought about anyone confusing my characters with real people–until recently. While scrolling through my newsfeed on Facebook, like I do about a hundred times a day, I saw a notice about my high school reunion. Over the years I've connected with some high school friends via social media with no mention of a reunion. Until now.

In my debut novel, The Ghost and Mrs. Miller, Libby Miller joins the committee to plan her twentieth high school reunion. On the committee are her dead husband Neil Miller's childhood friends Eli and Jesse who are former high school stars–on and off the football field. However, no amount of association with them rubs off on Neil. He remains an asterisk. Cocky, good looking football players and guys who wish they were, are staples in high schools. And my high school was no exception. My experiences with stars and asterisks, combined with my imagination, created my cast of characters, including cocky football stars and those who aren't.

I wrote about a class reunion to give Libby the chance to reconnect with old high school love interests, and to reunite old friends mourning Neil's loss. The combination of events provide opportunities for Neil's ghost to meddle in their lives and elevate his asterisk ranking to the star status of his two best friends.

The Facebook post called for volunteers. I wondered if the same high school hierarchy would reign, or if time will be the great equalizer. Curiosity made me select the box marked Yes, I'll be there. I'm a little nervous about the reunion meeting. Stars and asterisks will be there. Wonder if they'll ask if my characters are based on real people? I guess it depends on if they read my book.

Where do you get the real you put into your characters?



Learn more about Sandra Tilley and her books at: SandraTilley.com


Comments

  1. Good morning, J.C. Thanks for having me here today. Maybe some of our friends will stop by and share how real their characters are.

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  2. I'm always asked if my characters are based on real people, and for me, the answer is always no. I might take a quirk or a trait from someone I see, but my characters form themselves basically on their own. Plus, I don't write about real life, so I have no need for real people in my books.

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    1. I'm with you, Jennifer. Where's the fun in using a character you already know?
      Thanks for stopping by!

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    2. I agree Jennifer. I might have some similar personality traits, but the characters aren’t people I know and the main character is definitely NOT supposed to be me!

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    3. I hate it when people ask me if I'm Libby--my main character in the Ghost and Mrs. Miller. No, no, and no. :)

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  3. Fun subject! My answer is also yes and no. Most of the time they are not. But every once in a while a real person sneaks in there. I usually don't realize it until afterward.

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    Replies
    1. Those sneaky characters! What's a writer to do? Can't ban your subconscious. :)
      So glad you joined us.

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    2. I have some sneaky characters, too. Thanks for stopping by Kay!

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  4. Interesting post. I agree. I try not to infuse too much of the people I know into a character, but it often happens without my being aware of it.

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  5. Though my characters are mostly figments of my imaginations, occasionally something real pops in there, often unintentionally!

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    Replies
    1. Well, we write what we know. And we know characters! :)
      Glad you visited us today, Jana.

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  6. What an interesting post. I agree, I take bits and pieces of people I know and infuse the bits into my characters. It's just much safer that way. LOL

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    Replies
    1. Thank you, Suzanne. Your bits and pieces make awesome characters! Appreciate your stopping by.

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    2. I agree Suzanne! Although sometimes I randomly name characters after friends as a little nod, but they're nothing like the characters. :-) Thanks for stopping by!

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  7. The vast majority of my characters are not based on anyone. But occasionally one will act like someone I know. :)

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    Replies
    1. That's SO funny. And I SO get it. :)
      So glad you came by.

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    2. Hiiiiii Karilyn!! Thanks for visiting. So what youre saying is you got your inspiration for Gin's sass from me?!? Hahahahaha

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  8. Interesting post. I have to agree with Karilyn Bentley. Most of my characters are based on no one. But sometimes the act as people I've seen in public, not necessarily know. I enjoy people watching and listening to conversations I can over hear. Surprising what people say in public. LOL

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