4. It’s Not Wise To Upset a Wookie. They’ve Been Known To Pull People’s Arms Off.

4. It’s Not Wise To Upset a Wookie. They’ve Been Known To Pull People’s Arms Off.

When you create characters, be careful about who you base them on. I know someone who wrote very autobiographical, “fictional” short stories about their childhood, and let’s just say that it didn’t go over well with this writer’s friends and siblings. I’ve struggled with this issue too when I based characters on friends in a novel, even characters who weren’t doing anything “bad.” People ask, “Do I really sound like that?” or “Why did you put that in there?” Once you realize that these people will see themselves in your work, you’ll start second guessing yourself as you write, and that’s a nightmare.

Look, you’ll never make it through a career without offending someone, but be careful with those you care about (and even those you don’t…they can get litigious). Consider changing the jobs and names of those involved, their physical features or even their gender, combine people into one character, have a few characters represent one person, or find a way to make the whole story allegorical while changing EVERY possible detail. Make them all animals. Set that family drama in space. Or on a prairie in 1870. Or write it from an inanimate object’s point of view. Just remember that if you keep things too close to reality, you may end up damaging some relationships, or find yourself in a civil suit.

Or you’ll have no arms. That’s never fun.

“I find your lack of writing ambition disturbing.”

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