Do you put people you know in your books?

JanDanHow many times have friends asked me that question?

Once the ladies in accounting asked my husband (then my boy friend) if he was the inspiration for my love scenes. He blushed and ran quickly out of the cubicle where they were working.

Robert McKee (author of Story: Substance, Structure, Style, and the Principles of Screenwriting) talks about this very thing in his presentation at the Chicago RWA convention in 1999. I recently listened again to the tape.

Writers watch people, he said. They gather material through observation, assembling characters from the bits and pieces of people around them. Sort of like Dr. Frankenstein creating his monster.

More importantly, writers find characters in themselves, because the only person they can truly know is himself or herself. We understand other people the more we know ourselves, because we’re all fundamentally human. McKee points out that if we are thinking it, feeling it, others are experiencing it too. Self-knowledge is the key to all great writing.

Okay, I’ll buy all that. I don’t have one person in mind when I create a character, but I admit to putting myself into each one of my characters.

In coming blogs, I will give examples of how, when you read my books, you may find some autobiographical material.

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