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How Friends Become Characters

Careful what you say to a writer.  You might find yourself in their next book.  This freaks out some people but is it such a bad thing?  We want our fictional characters to be real, so at some level they must be based on the people the author “knows”.  None of the characters in The First Lie is based on any one person, but most of them are a composite of several people I’ve met.  This gives each character extra depth because their personalities are borrowed from several people.  As one independent reviewer put it: ” this book peeled back a few extra layers in terms of character development”.  I don’t plan who they’ll be because I agree with Julia Cameron (The Artist’s Way) who says, “I don’t create characters, I meet them.”  I don’t know how a character will behave or what they’ll say until I write it.  Often they say something I wasn’t expecting and reveal something about themselves that I wasn’t aware of until the words appear on the screen.  EEK!  Things can get sticky when the characters start writing themselves.  But I’m wary of characters always behaving “true to character” because I don’t think real people are predictable all the time — and the unexpected comments or behaviours that come out of nowhere give the story a vibrancy that predictability lacks.  For example, something a stranger once said to me has turned up in Book Two — I had just arrived at a new job and a young woman walked up to me and said, “Why do all the men I love leave me?”  Then she walked off.  Great line.  It’s popped into the mouth of a new woman in Selkie’s life, leading to an unexpected — and fictional — conversaton.  I wonder how it will play out in the plot?