Any resemblance to real persons, living or dead, is purely intended …

Know what you do with the person who exceptionally bothers and irks?

Why, if you’re a writer, you put him or her into a book!

Speaking now of fictional novels, one trait of a good writer is acute powers of observation. Those powers are both the sponges and the firewood that serve as the springboard to development and portrayal of characters that ring true to the writer and the reader.

However spot-on the observations of humanity, I’d defy many novelists to say that there isn’t a little of someone s/he knew personally woven into a character somewhere. It might be someone passionately loved, passionately hated or any other emotion emanating in mankind’s consciousness. Someone somewhere in a novel bears some thread of an actual living person.

Three years ago, I remember all too well, I worked at a warehouse job I detested. It was if not the lowest point of my working life certainly a contender. (It was the place mentioned in a prior posting where the sign on the front warned that weapons were not permitted.)

There were plenty of real low-lifes at that job, not the least of which was the manager. He was — how can I put this delicately yet succinctly — a dick.

BBQ Bob I called him, away from the warehouse, because once a year or so he’d haul his beloved grill from home and cook up burgers outside and extend the lunch break past the 30 minutes allotted.

Trust me, this gesture did not him a better person make. He still covertly shorted people on their hours, lived by the numbers — his production numbers that in turn yielded him corporate cache and bonuses — and sent employees home halfway through the workday with a gesture of a slicing finger across the throat.

BBQ Bob was the big man on campus in the letterman’s jacket, woefully and painfully inept as a manager and disturbingly unappreciative of my contributions that displayed my impeccable work ethics and surpassed the job description. It was one job where I was routinely reprimanded because I used my brain. The horrors!

I used to do my menial tasks concealing the tears streaming down my cheeks. It was at that warehouse that I vowed, for the first time, that a real-life character would be a character in my book (which at the time hadn’t been started).

He might not be called BBQ Bob or even Bob. He might not be a warehouse manager (“manager”). He might not strut across the workplace like a rooster with all the smarts of a lobotomized chicken. But one thing was certain: Bob would be in the book and in the end his would not be a happy fate.

See, misery inflicted by others must find its cleansing somewhere. It is universal law. For me, that is in writing.

From the warehouse emerged the first character with all resemblance to an actual person. Now has emerged a second. It is a WP blogger. I can say no more. What comes of the character, I can’t say, I don’t know yet (save to say there seems to be a tragedy that serves to awaken).

The absolute beauty of novels, in addition to a well-crafted story, is that the pages provide fertile grounds to reinvent and resolve real life and its characters. In every sense of the word, a novel is the oyster for a writer.

“All characters appearing in this work are fictitious. Any resemblance to real persons, living or dead, is purely coincidental.”

Legal protection, yes; entirely truthful, uhhh, perhaps not so much …


4 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. mkirkd
    Dec 30, 2010 @ 09:16:08

    Ha I didn’t know you were a writer..should have guessed with all your posts etc are very well written. I’ve spent too much time in corporate america and I have forgotten how to write anything longer than an email or memo.

    When I was in 6 or 7 grade I wanted to be a writer…i think it was my love of reading that inspired me. My sister was a technical writer for sofware companies in the Bay Area and she started a book. It was a mystery in which she used her ex-hubby and his family as the characters. I think it was therapy. Now my baby sister is doing a novel.

    I was thinking of doing a children’s book about my Ricky…BringUp
    Ricky. But I haven’t even started it et…well I think about it and think about what i would write.


    • allycatadventures
      Dec 30, 2010 @ 12:22:40

      @mkirk – I want to be clear. Just because someone has written a book does not him or her a writer make. A perusal of any bookstore will make abundantly clear that crap and drivel sell. (Kendra Wilkinson’s recent book is the first example that springs to mind.) I’m bothered when people call themselves writers when they clearly are not and equally bothered when the public perceives them as such when they’re not!
      I’m taken back to a favorite van Gogh quote: “If you hear a voice within you saying, ‘You are not a painter,’ then by all means paint… and that voice will be silenced.” You KNOW you are a true painter, writer, photographer, composer, singer or (fill-in-the-blank) when that absolutely stunning pearl of wisdom rings true.


  2. mkirkd
    Dec 30, 2010 @ 14:10:20

    Sorry I didn’t mean for you to take offence.


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