Tuesday, July 7, 2015

Writing About Someone You Know

  "If a writer falls in love with you, you can never die."

 I love this quote. It's so true. Writers tend to write about people they know, or take someone from an experience they had and put it in their book.

 John Green is a good example. There was a part in his book Looking for Alaska when a guy ran around campus, wearing a fox hat while shouting different things about how he was the "motherfucking fox" and no one could catch him. Someone asked John where he got the idea for the fox hat in an interview.

"Q: Where did you get the fox hat idea from?
 A: In high school, I had a friend who would wear a fox hat when breaking rules, and when asked why he was wearing a fox hat, he would always say, "Because no one can catch the motherfucking fox." That is the only true answer."
from the Exclusive Collector's Edition of Looking for Alaska by John Green

 It was a funny scene that added a nice touch to the book whenever some of the characters wanted to play a prank.

 It's okay to write about someone you know as long as you don't use their real name (when writing fiction). If you're writing non-fiction, I suggest you ask the person if they want to stay anonymous. In my books, I don't usually base a character off of an actual person. But, in the last book I wrote (which I'm editing now), I did.

 The last book I wrote was difficult to write, but somehow easy at the same time. I had problems writing it because when I started it, it was the first full contemporary novel I've ever been determined to finish, and just before starting it, I had ended a relationship with someone.

 So when I first started writing this book, I was actually re-writing it because I'd written the first 4 chapters when I was fourteen. They were terrible chapters, and therefore I struggled to reword things and had a hard time in deciding what I wanted to keep and didn't. I wrote 5 or 6 chapters and it was like my brain turned off, like someone flipped a switch. In that last chapter I'd gotten to before my brain shut off, I'd introduced the male lead.

I had to stop and seriously think about what I was doing, because I immediately noticed that I was writing about this person that I'd just cut ties with. And I didn't want that.

Writers always put their experiences, feelings, etc. in their writing. They sometimes even include people that were in their lives--whether it's family members, old friends, new friends, past loves, or acquaintances, etc. You might end up in one of our stories. It's just a thing we do.

Anyway, I found myself writing about this person and didn't want to write about them because I was still angry and upset about the situation that led me to cut them from my life, so I walked away from writing for a few weeks; maybe adding a sentence here and there but never sitting down and allowing myself to be engulfed in writing it.

After a while, my anger subsided enough for me to actually write, deciding that I was going to write this book and finish it. But I wasn't going to make the male character that person. (I'm tempted to call him, He Who Shall Not Be Named lol). I still struggled to finish the book, but it was mostly because it was my first totally contemporary romance novel (I'm not good at writing about normal lives), but it became easier the closer I came to the end. I managed to finish the book after a few months without making the character into that person, but I did add a few things that we did whenever the two characters teased each other.

 I like how the novel turned out and I'm hoping to get it published, but first I have a lot of editing to do. 

 Anyway, I'm rambling on. The whole point of this blog post is that it is okay to write about someone you know. As long as you don't have bad intentions behind it as a revenge thing, or planning on revealing this person's deepest, darkest secrets to the world in your book, it's okay. Just get permission to use the person's name (if writing non-fiction), and not use their real name at all in fiction. And don't exaggerate. Sometimes it is good to have something happen that's over dramatic, but if you're writing about someone you know, that could be bad.

 Happy writing! <3

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