Have you ever written something completely original and authentic only to give it to a friend to read through and have them say “that character was totally based on me right?”
If this has never happened to you then lucky you, if it has happened to you then I’m sure it makes your blood boil as much as mine does. There is nothing worse than having come up with an individual and unique character only to have your reader (incorrectly) assume they are based on someone real. All that hard work making the character stand out from the crowd with real traits and flaws is deemed pointless from that moment on because as much as you might insist that they are wrong and that you created your character all on your lonesome without any real world influence, they will forever insist that you must be mistaken and that the character in question is ‘soooo Kristina from our History class’.
Come on, it’s such an insult to the writer! Like really? Do we really need to base our lead character on Kristina from History? Is she really the only person alive who has blonde hair and reads Cosmo under the table when she’s supposed to be timelining the Tudor dynasty? (FIY, Kristina from History is also made up, I don’t even know a Kristina, but I bet she reminds you of Jess from that cruise you went on last year, right? Right?!)
Is it really so difficult to accept that people share traits? It’s impossible to write a completely unique character that bears no resemblance whatsoever to anyone known to man, so why do people always assume you’re ‘basing’ a character off of someone?
The best thing is, I have based some characters off of real people and nobody noticed! Well sort of…
So maybe the guy who arrived at school one day looking like a hedgehog had fallen asleep on his head inspired me to give my character Sandy the most ridiculous hairstyle known to man, but what’s the damage? Was he the only guy ever to walk into a class looking stupid? I’m going to guess no. Does that mean my character Sandy is based on this guy? No! Sandy is a surfer, who speaks Spanish and has a 3 year old sister who lives in Cornwall! The guy from my class was not a surfer, failed his Spanish GCSE and had 3 brothers who all live(d) in London.
I rest my case.