How far a writer is willing to go in the name of a good story? Specially if he is not a writer of science fiction, fantasy or horror/terror, that can be a thin line and a touchy subject.
Will he portray friends or acquaintances unashamedly in his characters, even if that means highlighting characteristics that would make his friends cringe when they see it in print associated to characters? What if he writes stories based on his real life and people that lived through that with him don’t like to see those exposed to the world?
An author I know had to face this situation regarding a story he wrote. He told the story of a failed relationship he had and how his girl at the time acted like a complete bitch. But the main rub was: he even exposed her sexual frigidity. Not because he wanted to expose her, but because he thought it brought depth to the character.
He actually wrote the story right after they broke up and he never thought he would see her again. What happened was that after a while she reached for him again and apologized for her behavior, saying that she wanted to talk. He agreed.
They spent a pleasant afternoon together just talking and were on good terms again.
However, he hadn’t sent his story to the publisher yet and when he got home he saw himself facing a crossroad: send the story anyway or change some things around so it wouldn’t be plain for her to see that it was about her?
He kept the story as it was. When she read it, she freaked out. She asked him how could he do that to her and said she never wanted to see him again. His answer was classy: nothing that I wrote is a lie and I won’t sacrifice a good story in the name of friendship. Besides, the only person that knows it’s about you it’s yourself. I used another name and the character was way different than you physically. If you can’t live with that, I’m sorry.
I stand behind him 100%. If the story really happened, as long as the facts are true, you should never balk from a good story.
The blog is taking a break for two weeks. I’ll be back on March 17th.
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Reading: The Winter’s Tale – William Shakespeare; Freebirds: The Lynyrd Skynyrd Story – Marley Brant