Found a wonderful discussion via Dawn at She is Too Fond of Books a while back about whether or not authors are morally responsible for their characters. While the morality part is a bit silly, in my opinion, it brings up the fine line of whether or not I, as an author, borrow too much from my real life.
It would be fair to say that since moving to Alberta, many of my story settings have taken on local and regional themes, and that my characters are different aspects of me. Who I was. Who I am. Who I would like to be. Rob can attest that he is most definitely the inspiration for my male protagonists. He is my muse and, fortunately, he is okay with that.
There is that little disclaimer on works of fiction that says something like “any resembelance to persons living or dead is strictly a coincidence” and I have always felt that they are bullshit. I don’t know how a writer cannot leech from their own lives even when writing fiction. Our imaginations are the sum of us. Or mine is anyway. I guess I shouldn’t speak for all writers.
My current novel is more than a little bit borrowed from life. The setting is where I live. The characters have their genesis in Rob and I and people I know through my daily life. Naturally, I have stretched and redrawn, but the faint outlines remain.
The memoir is, of course, based on reality but there is an air of creation to it because it filters through my perception and memories have a way of embellishing themselves with no help at all.
So people expect fiction to be completely fresh without taint from the author’s life? Are there writers who can do that?
5 thoughts on “The Fine Line”
Like you said, that disclaimer is total bullshit.
Am I responsible for my character’s morals if they are a grifting Christian preacher? No. So why would I be responsible for any other character’s morals?
Of course they’re not morally responsible! That’s why it’s called fiction.
I think we are the sum of our experience plus our imaginations … it would be impossible to create ANYTHING (and type of writing, art, music) otherwise.
The post I wrote was in response to a commenter who was furious at something a *character* in a novel said; the commenter believed that, since the author created the character, the character must necessarily reflect the opinions/beliefs of the author. I don’t agree; this is where imagination comes in 🙂
I had to smile at your note about the nonsense of “any resembelance to persons living or dead is strictly a coincidence” … so true. Our lives inspire so much.
this is why i stick generally to memoirs… changing the names to protect the innocent (and guilty).