One of the best things about being an author is you literally get paid to make things up. Jo Rowling? She spent years making up an imaginary world and then writing about it. Now she has hundreds of millions of dollars. Pretty impressive.
But when do you cross the line?
Everyday we we go about our lives, stuff happens to us. We meet a guy with a cool unique name. We hear a funny conversation and remember it later. Someone with an interesting quirk comes across our path. Later when I sit down at the computer and become my author self again, I remember this and toss it into the book.
Short story, in my day job I work on computers. A few months ago I was called to an office because of some silly computer problem. When I got there someone was logged into the computer and I asked him to log off so I could take a look. He looked at me and said you want me to log off meow?
I was tired and a bit distracted, so I stared back at him and asked, did you just say meow?
Needless to say, several people burst out laughing.
This scene stayed in my mind for a while, so later I wrote into my book a flashback scene where the main characters (siblings) are seven and seventeen. The younger one in the scene is meowing and acting like a cat. All because someone meowed at me while I worked. (not because I acted like an animal when I was a kid. Don’t ask my family)
This happens a lot, we write about what we know, or what we experience. Or a lot of the time, we fit bits of our self into our characters. I have a huge sweet tooth, bam, someone in the book has a sweet tooth. My favorite color is purple? That’s character’s X’s favorite color now. Or the opposite. I dislike spicy food, so someone loves it.
But when do we cross a line? When does it go from just taking bits of our lives, or bits of what we see, to suddenly copying down huge chunks of another person.
As an author, as are supposed to just keep it to a minimal, or is it okay to do this?
If I have a friend named Ann (I don’t, example) and designed a character after her with the name Annie, different hair color and few minor changes, is this okay?
I’d love to hear your thoughts.