Monday, June 11, 2007

Treading on toes

We had a nice weekend, family stuff. Swimming lessons, a big grocery shop, play day, fish store for fin rot treatment (I now have a nice fluorescent green tank), followed by the Bond movie.

I planned out the next two scenes of my book, moving into uncomfortably familiar territory of a woman crippled with MS while her husband tries to get on with his day job.

This is a situation in which my brother found himself a few years ago--amazing how time can move on and heal, but for this character of mine he's still in the interminable hell part--watching someone he loves die slowly and being unable to do anything to help them.

This is not my brother's story. My character's name is Brian McKnight, he's my hero's partner, another detective in the Scottish police force. I created Brian because he reflected a softer side of my hero, and even apart from his wife's illness, he's got his own intriguing backstory (though I have no intention of ever turning him into a romantic hero). Also I wanted to have one great father figure in the story. But I'm very aware I might be treading on toes very close to my own.

Anyone else ever had this problem when writing a story? Getting too close to real life? I'm also having to tread carefully with the fictional lecturers in the Gatty. The truth is much more shocking than the fiction I've created :) Although I don't know of any passionate embraces that occurred in broom cupboards--I can assure you DH and I never partook :)


  1. Well, I've never gotten into anything like that, and I can imagine it's an emotional thing, no matter how careful you are to tell it. Maybe it's another way of healing, or you just feel so compelled to tell it. Does your brother know that you are writing this particular scene?

    Many hugs in your writing journey here.

  2. I don't think I've encountered anything too close to home. But I think I take the emotional impact of things that happened and transpose them into the characters. Cheap therapy, I call it.

  3. I have that problem every time I sit down to write. I keep thinking that if my father reads this or that, he'll have a heart attack. Sorry pops, but you are an insiration in unflattering ways.

  4. My brother would only know if he reads this, which he might. But I am basically using the situation, rather than the characters. The characters are all different, not based on anyone real at all.

    But I would hate to hurt someone's feelings.

  5. Scott--that's a very real part of your writing, it is what makes it so authentic.

    Hard not to use life experience when writing...

  6. As long as no one sues :) That's what one of our local snowboarders (Ross Rebagliati) is doing aftter seeing the TV show 'Whistler'. He fears one of the fictional characters casts him in a rotten light, although the show creators say the character is not modelled on him.

    I think the smaller the real-life setting you're drawing inspiration from, the more tricky it gets. Like the uni, for example. (Even an old blog post could come up in court as proof you were planning on using something, or someone as inpiration -- and went ahead with it.) Hah -- that's me the scaremongering-conspiracy theorist!! No wonder I love plotting :)

    Good luck with it, Toni. I love the idea of using a character to portray the H's compassion -- happy writing day :)

  7. Well my blog posts would work in my favour because I've always stated I'm trying not to use real characters.

    Mark this post for when I'm rich and famous LOL.

  8. There's a story I'd really like to write, but it would almost be autobiographical and I don't know if I'm ready for that yet...

  9. I get close to real life sometimes in various aspects of characterization, and even certain scenes and dialogue, but the good thing is that no one knows but me!