the real thing

Ernest Hemingway knew Lady Duff Twysden when he was young. He used her as the model for Lady Brett Ashley in his first novel, The Sun Also Rises. I read an interview with him once, from later on in his life, where he said he could barely remember Duff Twysden anymore — when he thought about her, he remembered Brett Ashley instead.

It just occurred to me that I’m in the same situation. Several characters in my early stories were based on a group of girls who I’d known years earlier — who I now realize that I barely remember.

Vicki has now almost completely replaced the real Vicki in my mind. SarahBeth has replaced the original, who I barely knew back then (and in any case most of the character’s personality came from someone else, from much later). SarahAnn, SarahBeth’s older sister, was, I’m pretty sure, based on a girl named Sarah, but I’m not even 100% sure about that at this point. I remember nothing else about her.

And, in going back over this, I remembered that there had been a guy character in that group as well, SarahBeth’s boyfriend, named Johnny Mac, and I’d forgotten about him completely (though I do remember who he was based on).

So, maybe when you base your characters on real people, you can end up with only one of the two later on, either the original or the character.

I find I’m okay with this. Maybe it’s not so much a failure of memory as an indication that you’ve created a pretty good character. 🙂

On an entirely different topic, here’s an interesting article from the New Yorker:

Why Are All ‘Star Wars’ Movies the Same?

I liked it mostly for this section:

In 2015’s “The Force Awakens,” the director J. J. Abrams told a completely derivative “Star Wars” story, placating fans who were desperate for the “magic” of the originals, while boring everyone else. Last year, Gareth Edwards went out on a limb with “Rogue One”—an atmospheric, sombre, and tragic film in which (spoiler alert) all the heroes die.

As I get more and more tired of franchise films these days, I have increasingly have the feeling that making a successful installment in a franchise has ended up at odds with making an actually good movie (which Rogue One is). And when social media is everywhere, ready to amplify the smallest complaint from the faithful…

On other hand, here’s a Star Wars article that really caught my interest:

We capitalized ‘Porgs,’ but it was a tricky decision: A message from The A.V. Club copy desk

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4 Responses to the real thing

  1. Maggie says:

    I have several characters who were all based on the same person, who I barely remember from real life yet still follow on some social networks. Every time she does something “out of character” I have to remind myself that she is an actual person and the characters are totally different.

    I haven’t seen the newest Star Wars and don’t know if I will. Usually, the more that hype surrounds something, the less likely I am to want to see it. The Porgs are cute, though!

  2. SB Roberts says:

    I’ve based characters off of people in real life, though too often, they were people that I just observed, not ones that I actually knew. 🙂

    Totally agreed on the Star Wars front. Rogue One was great. I wish The Last Jedi had been willing to take similar chances and make more daring moves, like it seemed to promise.

    • In storytelling terms, one thing Rogue One did was create a MacGuffin (the Death Star plans) that has a lot more weight than MacGuffins usually do because they’re the freakin’ Death Star Plans!

      This movie doesn’t have to stop and explain how important the plans are (which would have been tedious) because we’ve all seen Star Wars.

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