Tuesday, September 14, 2021

Let's Get Real About Fictional Characters

This is a work of fiction. Unless otherwise indicated, all the names, characters, events, and incidents in this book are the product of the author’s imagination. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, or actual events is purely coincidental.


Unless you’ve never read a fiction book or you’re one of those people who don’t read anything before page 1, you’ve read this disclaimer before. The legal folks kept on retainer by publishers require such notices, and justifiably so. I mean, we live in a culture where people file lawsuits (and win!!) because the hot coffee they ordered at a fast food drive-through was, well, hot!


But I digress. Back to every published novelist’s emphatic denial that they have -- to even the slightest degree -- based any of their fictional characters on a person they know or have observed.


I’m calling “bull” on the whole disclaimer. 


As Solomon so wisely said, “there is nothing new under the sun”. And, of course, that applies to fictional characters. Given the time and background information needed, I’m confident you and I could successfully play a fictional-character version of “Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon”. In other words, I am sure we could analyze the traits of every novel's characters and trace them back to the “actual person(s)” encountered in real life by the very first author who “created” such a character. 



I’ll even be so bold as to claim that, if authors were completely honest (or connected to lie detector machines that zapped them with every falsehood), they would confess that the similarities between their novel’s mean-spirited protagonist and their snippy sister-in-law are not exactly “coincidental”, either.
 


I’ve never been a trendsetter, but I’m willing to be one. To that end, here’s the disclaimer you’ll find just before the opening chapter in my first book:


This is a work of fiction. The legal team of XYZ Publishing requires that I state that unless otherwise indicated, all the names, characters, events, and incidents in this book are the product of the author’s imagination. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, or actual events is purely coincidental. 


There. I've stated it. But the truth is that every single character, event, and incident in the book you’re about to read has at least an inkling of a person, event, or incident I’ve witnessed in real life. 


If you love a character and recognize yourself in him/her, thank you for being part of my life. If you’re offended because you recognize yourself in a less-than-positive character, well . . . 

1 comment:

  1. This is so true! Thank you for the courage to say it aloud.

    ReplyDelete