“Don’t annoy the writer. They may put you in a book and kill you.”
It seems a popular idea that writers create characters based specifically on people they know or have crossed paths with in life. Having not [intentionally] done so myself, I was curious how many writers actually do this. Have you ever written a person – a friend, an enemy, a coworker, relative – from your life into one of your stories?
Personally, I’ve always been afraid that whoever I wrote into my stories would catch on and become upset. I have, of course, taken experiences from my life, and drawn from it mannerisms and outlooks which inspire characters, scenes and arcs. But I often make a point of altering these enough so that it’s not a direct or obvious reference to someone in a way that might hurt them. Truth is, any writing can be unflattering, even if we try to portray a character in the best possible light. The only true exception is when a person you write into your stories happens to be so vain and oblivious in real life that they think the world of their fictional vicar. An “I’m in a book/movie!” sense of personal self-adoration that somehow deludes the person into thinking that the character based on them is a model of perfection.
So what are your thoughts? Do you intentionally write people you know into your stories? Accidentally? Has anyone ever caught on? Were they pleased or upset?