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March 9, 2011 / Chersti Nieveen

the importance of endings

So whenever I talk to my sister, Sarah, she happens to spoil the ending of something. Which is one reason I stopped watching the BBC Robin Hood because Sarah happened to BLURT OUT *spoiler* that Marian dies. *End of spoiler* And for me, the girl who covers her ears while saying “I can’t hear you” whenever someone attempts to do this very thing (Do it, I dare you!), this can be the ending of her world.

Okay, not really.

So I am yet again changing the ending of TLO, though this time it is minor change just because I had to change the age of one of my characters. And I think it’s coming out for the better, yet again.

However, no matter how my book ends, my sister is traumatized. She seems to have it in her head that TAYANA = SARAH somehow . . . And yes, both Tayana and Sarah happen to have blonde hair, a sweet-but-sometimes-sarcastic disposition, and are super funny . . . so I can see why there is some confusion. But I tell you, my sister Sarah is one amazing cook and my character Tayana would burn crackers. She just doesn’t have much practical sense.

But now my sister is demanding that her character wouldn’t say such lines. Or do what Tayana does in the end, because she is far too selfish. Oh, and she needs a cat.

Right.

So I have decided that the dedication in my book will go as such:

To my dear sister, Sarah, who thinks she’s the sister in this book . . . only she’s wrong.

I am actually making Tayana older than my protagonist, Mykelle, in this revision, which has really changed the dynamic and made the story just that much cooler. And I’m really hoping this means that Sarah will get over her confusion, while not hating me in the process.

But I guess on the good side, my sister has identified herself in one of my characters, which is one of the best compliments I could possibly have!

So have you had people think they are in your stories? Or have you (secretly) taken people and added them to your stories (no need to mention names here!)? And have you ever had to make a small change (like making a character 19 instead of 12) that has changed YOUR WHOLE BOOK?

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11 Comments

  1. Rebecca T / Mar 9 2011 8:45 am

    My one character, Moira, (best friend to the MC) is kinda loosely based on my sister. And I was a little afraid because she’s (the character) not exactly the brightest – not stupid, but she doesn’t think things through and it’s her fault they end up trapped. But my sister laughed when I told her and she told me that she could totally see herself doing the things that Moira does so that made me feel better.

    I think it is funny when people see themselves in things we write, because a lot of times it’s not even intentional!

    And isn’t it amazing how much changing one detail, like age, can change things? It’s crazy!

    Good luck with the revisions!

  2. Liz / Mar 9 2011 9:10 am

    I know exactly how you feel. I am completely changing the whole middle of my book, and it sucks. I just started last week, but I think it will be better.

  3. Writer J / Mar 9 2011 9:12 am

    So what does Sarah think of the changes?

  4. Melissa / Mar 9 2011 9:21 am

    Writers pull things from real life all the time. They can’t help it. They take a tiny observation here and add it to there story there. It’s part of the job. I use things from my coworkers all the time. Just small quirks they might have. Or from people I see on the bus or in stores. I have fun people watching.

    Your sisters cute. And it’s good she can see herself in your story.

  5. Chersti Nieveen / Mar 9 2011 9:25 am

    Rebecca T – That’s really funny! I worry that someone might think they are like this character I have and will get offended, so I’m glad it worked out for you! And you are so right – it’s rarely ever intentional for me to base a character on someone. And if I do, it’s just something small they do. Or a physical feature. And good luck with your WIP!

    Liz – Good luck with your changes!

    Writer J – Fortunately Sarah isn’t mad over the changes — she really likes the idea. And when I’m finished, I’ll let her read it and see how she likes it. But she agrees that changing the characters age really opens the possibilities.

    Melissa – I love people watching, too! Especially the funny conversations in the store, where you have no idea where the person is coming from. But it just cracks me up.

  6. Suey / Mar 9 2011 9:41 am

    Not that this has anything to do with your post… but you should seriously keep watching Robin Hood! 🙂

    • Chersti Nieveen / Mar 9 2011 9:49 am

      Oh really? I just adore BBC shows, so if it’s not too bad about the spoiler, I think I’ll try it again 🙂 Thanks!!

  7. Nikki / Mar 9 2011 9:50 am

    Great post! My first manuscript had characters based on people I knew in high school . . . and it was embarrassing to let my family read it because they recognized my old crushes, etc. Since then I make sure my characters aren’t based on ANYbody, which makes my job harder in some ways (creating a “real” person out of thin air) but also more fun and exciting when they suddenly do become real! And like you said, I think it’s a huge compliment if a reader does relate that well to a character you made up. 🙂

  8. Leisha Maw / Mar 9 2011 10:05 am

    I based the MC of my middle grade on my son. But usually I don’t base my characters on any one person. I just take snatches of people and use the qualities they have to round out my characters.

  9. Chersti Nieveen / Mar 9 2011 12:56 pm

    Nikki – That is so funny! And you’re right that making a character out of thin air is hard. Sometimes I pick up attributes of TV characters I like. But even then, I’ve never based a person only off one. It’s always a compilation of things I’ve picked up and what makes that person. It’s easier to give them their own life that way.

    Leisha – That’s exactly how it is for me! 🙂

  10. Melissa / Mar 9 2011 12:59 pm

    I think it would be harder to base it off a real person, especially someone your close to. Then it’s hard to make that character suffer. Maybe that’s just me tho. Sometimes I do TV characters too. Especially the stupid ones I just want to make better. They make great villains.

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