basing characters on people you know
In the past, I never based characters on people I actually knew. My characters were just people like people I might know, or perhaps people like I wish I were.
But among the various epiphanies I've been having these past few days is one for a subplot for second of the two novels I'm going to work on in the near future (and it really needs a subplot if I'm going to turn it into a complete novel, since I thought it was supposed to be a short story, but it really wants to grow way beyond that).
Anyway... I was looking for a good subplot to add, and it hit me that the best way to do this would be to add a character who happens to be a whole lot like a good friend of mine. Of course, this character won't be exactly the same as my friend, but my friend is unique enough and the similarities are strong enough that anyone who knows this person will immediately recognize that the character strongly reflects my friend in many, many ways.
The question is whether I should work really hard to make this character different. Or maybe I should talk to my friend and see how he/she feels about being a part of one of my novels. And if I do, what happens if she/he says, "For Goodness Sake! No!" Do I go ahead and write the character the way I want? After all, it's not like I said, "So-and-so is a cool person, I want to make a character just like him/her."
Rather, I was writing a scene where a person's (business) partner is dying, and so s/he crawls into bed with them to warm them up (trying to prevent them from going into shock). And if felt really weird, and a bit erotic, even though this person was dying, and the partner's intent was only to help keep him/her warm with their body heat (a tried and true first aid technique). But the ambiguity around the word partner made two readings possible -- business partner or love partner, and the getting into bed with the dying person thus acquired two meanings as well -- the first aid one, and then this tender farewell to a dear friend/partner. Wow! Suddenly a vista opened up for a new partner again with the variety of meanings being brought into play. And I saw the scene where my character meets the new partner-to-be, and as I thought about what would bring these two people together, what business interests, what physical attraction, it became really clear that the new partner really resembled my own friend.
So either it was my subconscious working, or an unintentional resemblence, or just there are only so many kinds of people out there, sooner or later, you're going to hit on a character that in some way resembles someone you know.
Anyway, enough rambling... off to write!