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May 14th, 2007, 02:30 AM
I have a question, partly from a situation I'm in, and partly from a recent NCIS episode.

When someone is, or is to some extent, a model for a character in one of your stories, do you tell them about it? What if you want to ask them about what they might do in a certain situation? What if there's a chance (yeah right, a one in a million chance) your story might be published and it would be obvious to anyone who knew them who they are?

What do you think?


May 14th, 2007, 02:45 AM
I've just begun to write a novel I had been panning for a while,
and my characters changed so much from what I began with that
they no longer bear the resemblance of their models, whether it was a fictional character or real person, or bit of both. Unless you're dead sure about your character's stability, I'd say wait a while, write out the draft, and see how they come alive in your story.

Just my two cents. ;)

James Carmack
May 14th, 2007, 03:12 AM
I'd say it depends on how friendly of terms you're on with said model and how flattering (or unflattering) the portrayal is. If you're potentially insulting said person, he or she had better have a good sense of humor if you want any feedback you can use. (Unless you consider a string of expletives useful feedback. ^_^; )

I know some authors who consult their models when they're worried about how the chara's coming across and whatnot, so it's not like it isn't done or anything. Read the atmosphere a bit and maybe then you'll know whether to ask or hold your peace.

Hereford Eye
May 14th, 2007, 08:33 AM
Having watched the episode in question, very humorous, I am reminded of the disclaimer often inserted in the front matter of novels: Any resemblance to persons, living or dead, is purely coincidental. Seems to me this is something that ought to be true for all stories.

Stephen Palmer
May 14th, 2007, 09:32 AM
My last novel Hallucinating had a number of cameo appearances by real people, eg. Steven Wilson of Porcupine Tree, Ed Wynne of Ozric Tentacles, and a few more. I contacted every one and asked them if they would appear. Many got really stuck in to their appearances! In the front of the book is a long list of disclaimers, all of which begin The name and likeness of () used with permission.

Worked a treat!

May 14th, 2007, 09:48 AM
Let's not forget the legendary and sadly missed David Gemmell was fired from his job on a newspaper after he based a character on his boss, who viewed it as an attack on his integrity...

Might want to be careful, just in case. ;)

May 14th, 2007, 11:27 AM
I completely agree that it depends solely on your relationship w/ the person and what role that character plays ie:

The whore of the town is modeled from your wife- ummmm don't tell her that

An abusive drunken father that you despise is modeled after your dad-be ready for another beating if you let him know

A little know it all, spoiled, pain in the ass is modeled after your child-get ready for nagging and silent treatments when you let him know

A money grubbing welcher is modeled after your best friend-well forget the last 20 bucks he owes you when he finds out

I think you get the picture

May 14th, 2007, 12:32 PM
I'm not entirely sure if you mean the person is a model in the sense of the person's job, which you are borrowing for authenticity, or is a model for an actual character. If it's the former, it's not a sweat. The model person becomes your professional consultant source, and you ask the person for advice on the particular profession, including asking what would you or other insurance adjusters (or whatever the job is,) do in such a situation. Fiction writers do this all the time -- it's research, and usually the model person is happy to help you out.

But if it's the latter, that's where you can run into the libel difficulties, or, if it's your relatives, banning from all major holiday gatherings. If you really feel you must do it, change things, I'd suggest. Don't use physical similarities at all. If the person is blonde, make the character brunette, possibly South American. If you want to use someone's mannerisms, make the rest of the character so different from the person whose mannerism you are borrowing that you can honestly say to that person that the character is a composite of many people and you just borrowed the mannerism because you thought it was endearing.

If it's a famous person, that's a whole different kettle of fish.

May 14th, 2007, 01:25 PM
Ask Jacquin ;)

May 14th, 2007, 05:43 PM
I've used a number of real-life folks as the basis for many of the characters in my Rusty Bones work. In most cases they are allies of the the main character and their personaity traits, descriptions, and quirks are rather distinctive--making the characters come alive. But even though they are allies (ie-good guys), and I kow many of these people quite well, I let them see themselves in my blog and was prepared to change anything they didn't like.

If approached in the right way, and if the characters' positive and especially negative traits are treated appropriately, many people won't mind seeing themselves in your writing.

On my blog, some of those real life models have chosen to make quite few comments 'in character', which helps me to portray them even better in the mian story posts, and then later in the book(s).

Now, I have used real life folks as the basis for bad guys as well, but those I am far better about disguising...for obvious reasons.

aka Agent Rusty Bones