Tuesday, July 17, 2012

If The Word. . .er. .. Shoe Fits~Wear IT!

One of the biggest sayings from fiction writers is the tried and true:

As a matter of fact, this t-shirt is a bestseller among all the writer's cafe. I didn't get one of those though, I got the pink Writer Girl one and LOVE it!


The funniest thing happened to me and made me cackle from the tips of my toes to the split-ends in my hair.
Someone actually accused me of using their likeness to them, when in all reality the fictitious character was named and taken from a winner of a reader contest I had held on my STREET TEAM.

The contest was "Name Tonya's new town and the victim will be named after you and you get a dedication in the book." I had an overwhelming number of entrants. The winner was Ann Miller and she was SO excited. It was a great way to connect to a reader. We talked back and forth, having a blast fleshing out the character.

Soo....after I heard about someone, who is not even in my thought process, actually thought I was writing a character about them, made me pause (after I hysterically laughed of course).

John Steinbeck couldn't have said it better: I have tried to keep diaries, but they didn't work out because of the necessity of to be honest.

WOW! He is so right! AND people who don't write don't get this. Everyday life is hard and there is NO way I want to sit down and rehash any thing from my real life, good or bad. When I write, I write to help my readers escape from their world, not bring them into my real world.

When I write out my characters, I use a character worksheet and address book to make sure I have their features down pat. This helps me from book to book so I don't get their eye color or skin color wrong.
The problem with description is that there is only so many hair colors, skin colors, body types, etc....to use.

Again. . .it made me pause and think about the subconscious mind. Carpe Bead 'em was 110% taken from my life as a jewelry beader and my real life Aunt Grace. The novel is chick-lit, but it was the only chick-lit novel I have ever written. I'm a mystery writer. But Carpe Bead 'em was intended for my family to read and it ended up being the first novel I had published.

After Carpe Bead 'em, everything I have since published is strictly fiction. OR is it?

Or are my readers looking so deep below the surface that they take every single thing I write literal, creating the characters into their likeness?

Can we really keep our memories or our subconscious mind out of our writing?

At the end of the day, all I can say to my readers, good or bad. . . if the shoe fits. . .
Maybe I bought the wrong t-shirt.

What about you? Do you let your real life interactions seep into your writing? 


  1. wow! loves that kick-ass spiked stiletto. Readers fill in a lot about the character from their own experience. They can't help it. I had one reader said she began imagining my hero as sandy-haired since I didn't mention his hair until I was in a POV of a character who would notice who said he had dark hair, and it ruined her image of him. Possibly she likes sandy-haired guys.

    I think it's flattering for you that someone would think you designed the character after them. Means you made a well-rounded, fleshed out character.

    1. OH, Rachelle! I love that about your reader:) Well....my character was NOT flattering and ended up dead....sigh....

  2. I have to agree with Rachelle. The character obviously came off as real as...well...a real person. Maybe the t-shirt should say something like, "I'm so good, you think I made you a character in my book."

    It's really a compliment.

    1. Thanks, Cherie! I absolutely think you need to make that shirt!

  3. Perhaps you owe it to us give us a little bit of you in every book you write. ;}

  4. I love a book where the people seem so real that I could sit and have a conversation about them in my living room. Or I'm off doing something and left the book behind and I think oh wonder what He and She are doing now. I thought I was strange lol. I did read a book where the hero is described as being blond but the front cover gives me the impression of a dark headed man lol. NOT the author's fault the cover people didn't pay attention.

    1. Oh....Ck, the cover NOT matching the book is my biggest pet peeve.

  5. Funny, my niece bought me that T-shirt and I love it! In my case, my debut book, Wedlocked, was based on my first disastrous marriage. However, I find that my relatives and friends who read it often mis-identify which characters are based on them and others they know. Interesting how we see ourselves compared to how others see us, isn't it? All you have to do is change the physical description to throw people off. I think that's probably a good (and safe) thing for the writer's relationships! ;-) Great topic, Tonya!

    1. Hahhaa! Bonnie, you made me laugh. OH....I'd never have the courage to base a story on an irritating event that happened in my life. You are a brave gal.

  6. I've blogged about this too. I'm always amazed when people see themselves in my books. They're almost always wrong--because I don't think of them as like the character at all. Funny thing though--when I put a real person in a book, slightly disguised--the real person never seems to recognize him/herself at all.