I Know What You Wrote is About Me; the Fantasy and the Flattery of it All

Have you ever shown your writing to a friend or family member only to have them insist that one of the characters in the story must be based on them and their lives? I’ve encountered this dilemma a few times early in my writing career and here’s the thing; I give the person closure that no, this piece/story/idea was in no way about them but that yes, they have a fascinating life to be certain, and I went about my writing, business as usual.

Some people might think they see themselves in the character of a fantasy story you may have shown them. The character may be described as visually pleasing to the mind’s eye but also happens to be a bit of a narcissist in which case, hypothetically, someone may suggest that if you were going to write about them, you could have at least done so in a flattering light. Others may think that the character who ‘has it out’ with her lover on paper must be based on that fight they told you they had with their significant other about an affair that *may have taken place many years ago. The truth is, people often see themselves in the work that they read. The mirror reflection in literature and writing of all forms and genres that show the experiences that make us human, our struggles and triumphs and our emotions and behaviors, exists both in print and real life is what writing, to me, is about.

Realism in literature is harder to achieve because it has to come across on the paper as effortless. If a writer adds too many exclamation points, uses a sentence to muscular with verbs, doesn’t add enough adjectives, the writing looks like writing and the reader isn’t ‘reading’ so much as they are looking at words on paper. But I digress…

The next time you write a blog, story, novel or article, unless it really is about the person you’re handing sharing it with to read, don’t take their reaction to heart. Writing is composed of words and words are meant to evoke emotion. If you are evoking emotion in your reader, you are excelling as a writer.


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