Writers use what they know in their stories. If you grew up with a bunch of brothers, you might write a book with a cast of male characters, or a YA story about a girl living in a house full of boys. You could let your characters do similar things that your brothers did. If you experienced it, you’d be able to write it convincingly.
People inspire writers all the time, from strangers to loved ones, and even people we don’t like. We may borrow a personality trait from our best friend or give our mom’s cooking skills to our protagonist’s mother. We may let out heroine live out our sister’s nasty divorce, or give a minor character a friend’s cool tattoo. Doing this doesn’t mean our characters are based after people we know, though. Inspiration is different.
So if you’re a family member or friend of a writer, you can rest assured that the character in their book, who has a trait similar to you, is not actually you. The writer just thought that trait would be perfect for a character. That’s all. The only time you have to be worried about this is if he/she is writing a memoir, or if a fictional story sounds awfully reminiscent of their/your life.
A few of the characters in my unpublished series were originally inspired by my family and close friends. I gave one of my female characters my best friend’s caring, medical side of her personality, and another character her feisty, no BS side. But neither of them are my best friend, and while I wrote my books, the characters told me what kind of women they wanted to be, not the other way around.
So I’m curious . . .
QUESTIONS: Has your family and/or friends inspired any of your characters? How much of yourself do you give your characters? Have your loved ones ever read your work and asked if they were this character or that character? If so, how did you deal with it?