Thursday, July 23, 2009

Do You Use People You Know In Your Stories?

I like to use traits from people I know but only traits. I want my characters to be unique individuals. What happens is I observe a specific character trait in someone I know and find that the trait would be perfect for one of my characters.

In fact, I put a bit of myself in all of my characters. Understanding many of my own strengths and weaknesses makes it easier to create characters that are more believable. Yes, even the villains. After all, isn’t there a bit of villain in all of us? Don’t we all sometimes wish we could do what our villains do?

What about you? Do you use yourself or people you know to create your characters?


  1. I definitely put people I know in my novels but change them drastically. Some of my characters are completely made up (actually, most of them) but I believe it's hard not to write about people we've known for years. Some of them have a way of creeping into my writing. There are other family members I'd love to write about but can't because they'd recognize themselves and it would cause a wedge. Sure would have some great stories, though.

  2. I know what you mean about family members recognizing themselves in the story. Mine have some unique characteristics that would make my fictional characters more life-like, but I know they’d spot themselves in a heartbeat! I also agree that it’s hard not to use people we’ve known for years. I like to take bits and pieces from the personalities of people I know and add them to the characters where they would best fit.

  3. My characters are usually 20% me, or someone I know, and 80% made up. The made up bits are sometimes a mish-mash of character traits I've observed in others, but it comes out being something new.

  4. Lorel,
    Thanks for commenting. I find that by using bits of myself, I can relate to the character better, predicting how he/she will respond in a situation. Do you find that as well?
    M.J. Macie

  5. Mine would have to be, Sarah in Redeeming Love and Elizabeth in Pride and Prejudice. Sarah because she has been through so much in her life and God still blesses her. She ends up helping girls that were put into a similar situation as her. God uses her life to help others like her find a way out of that life style. He also blesses Michael, her husband. This was just an all-around good book.
    I like Elizabeth because she is so sure of herself and who she thinks she is going to be, but she is blindsided by what life really has in store for her. The man she loathed in the beginning of the story, she ends up falling in love with and must eat her words. She is still strong willed and outspoken, but something in her changes when she realizes she is in love with Mr. Darcy.