note: I scribbled this blog last year sometime, and decided that the timing would provide too many clues. This morning I found the scribble, and here we are…
Today, I kill someone.
Premeditated. Deliberate. With much aforethought.
And boy, am I going to enjoy it. Revel in it. WALLOW in it.
Has anyone ever mentioned…don’t tread on a writer?
Actually, I’ve never done this before. I’m pretty careful not to put people I know into my work (no matter how some folks persist in guessing otherwise). Especially after too many incidents of people assuming that authors simply pluck people from their own lives instead of having the craft and experience to create them and make them feel real.
(I’ll never forget the one person who thought he knew better than me when it came to basing a certain character on myself. “No, she really isn’t me.” Yes, he assured me. She was. I had just done it subconsciously, but clearly she was in fact me.)
As if the process of putting a book together is so random that I might not notice what I’ve done. Or maybe as if I didn’t know myself well enough.
The truth is, my characters come from all over. Pieces of someone I saw in a doctor’s office, someone I passed on the street, someone I glimpsed on the television–and yes, tiny pieces of my experience that in no way represent the whole, just as actors channel their performances through their own experiences.
Even when it comes to the animals–er, not that I ever have dogs, cats, or horses in my books, oh no-ooo–I only rarely imbue them with pieces of animals I know. Characters and story and plot are all so interwoven that no author can afford to limit her options by sticking with Real Life Characters. That’s just the way it is, no matter what other people might think.
And besides, supposing that you know better than the author when it comes to the author’s own work…that’s just rude. So don’t do that. No, no, you can’t even have that sly look of disagreement on your face. We can see that, you know.
Okay, that felt good to say. And having said it, I now confess to the murder–and to breaking the “no real characters” twice in the same story! And for two very different reasons.
Tanner the dog (and his dogmom) found their way into TRACKING MURDER because Tanner’s dogmom won an auction for a tuckerization. He was at first simply going to be a walk-on, but because (see above) characters and story and plot are all so interwoven…well, there you are. It turned into something much more. Appropriate to the story, and more than just a walk-on–a perfect illustration of how it’s just not possible to use real personalities in fiction without changing either the story or the personality, and still do justice to both. And that’s why I don’t.
And now, if you’ll excuse me, I’m about to go commit that murder. Because, finally, I’ve decided to do it. In this case, someone crossed that line of behavior so very badly, so deliberately…that I’m taking the plunge. Even now, the story takes precedence, requiring a completely revised character to fill this role. But it won’t matter that no one else knows who the character represents–and why the character is taking a dive. I’ll know.
And I’m looking forward to it.