A few months ago, the joy I felt after hearing a short story of mine would be published faded into what can only be called dread after realizing my family and friends might assume the character was actually me.
There were some similarities. The story opens with a sleepless night because of a snoring dog and husband (though the dog is really much more of a snorer than anyone else). Hopefully there aren’t too many other similarities, especially since I was trying to show how not to be.
In real life, I’m lucky enough to know a lot of characters. It might be tempting, but I wouldn’t turn a person I know into a character. I’d rather write character profiles, figure out the reasons why a character might do something, and watch that character come to life. Especially in a novel, characters need to live a more exciting life than most of us do. That’s why we like to read about them.
The fun of writing is in creating. It’s much more exciting to think up a character than it is to use everything from real life. I like to sprinkle a few real-life details in just for my own entertainment, but it’s still fiction. If some overall human truths are able to seep in, that can make the story better, but it’s still fiction.
Still, the more you say, “It’s fiction,” the more it sounds like maybe it’s not. So then writers have to learn not to care what anyone might think of their stories. Easier said than done, I know.