Is it ok to base some of your villains looks on real bad people you know personally?

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Reverent33345

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Drat and double drat!
(Proving I can do villain talk)
Hey don't feel bad! Maybe one day if I get this made into a graphic novel or comic then move on to having live animation or film, maybe you could do the voice acting for him? You just don't look the part :S
 
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Robert Zwilling

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I was just using a reference of inspiration based on someone or incident I knew of in real life
As long as you just think about that person or the committed act while writing and use those thoughts to generate emotions that you can put into writing as realistically as possible it's not a bad way to write. But as soon as you start creating characters that are physically and emotionally identifiable to real people you open a Pandora's box better left closed. There is probably a good reason why fiction works have that big disclaimer that says any similarity is purely coincidental and unintentional and I would never think of doing that, etc, etc,.
 

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I think we're all talking at slightly cross purposes since what you're apparently trying to say isn't what most of us were picking up from your opening posts.

As I said before, by all means use real people as an inspiration for your characters, good and bad. It's not something that I do much of, since I'm quite happy to create characters from scratch -- or, rather, to allow them to develop as I write them -- based on my knowledge of people generally rather than specific individuals, and with particular facets of my own personality added to the mix if need be. If you find it easier to start with a template, that's fair enough. The problem is if you're not as creative as you might hope, and the character remains fixed in that template to the end.

As with most things connected with writing, inspiration is good, copying is bad.
 

Teresa Edgerton

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Although many great writers have based some of their characters on real people, there is a big potential problem with basing characters on people we know, especially if they are people we don't know very well or people we've had bad experiences with, and that problem is that we may think we know that person's motivations and can use that knowledge to make the character more realistic, but we may not know as much as we would like to think. We can never really see what is going on inside a real person's mind; we may make a good guess at what their motivations are, why they are as they are, but it will still be a guess. And say that I were a woman who had been through a nasty divorce and decided to use my ex-husband as one of my characters. I'd be so intent on presenting my own view of what happened between us and justifying my own actions, I could never give a truly fair representation of my ex- or why he did what he did. Even if he genuinely was an awful person and an awful husband and I was the most fair-minded and perceptive person in the world, I could not remove myself from the situation to that extent. ( Although, it's true that I might create a convincing portrait for fictional purposes.)

Whereas with wholly fictional characters that we create—taking a bit from this person and a bit from that person and maybe something of ourselves and some attributes we don't even know where they came from before they popped into our minds—such characters as those we CAN know from the inside out, because we created them. We know who and what they are, why they did what they did, why they didn't do what they could have done, how they feel about it afterward, what they are likely to do next, etc. etc.
 

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You know some really bad people? I'm shocked and dismayed. Hope you don't hang with them.
Seriously though, it is difficult not to include the characteristics of people you know, however it's worse when you don't realize that you just described-so-and-so and not only that; they now are reading the book.
This is probably the sole reason for using someone close to you to edit the book at least once: reality check time.

More importantly it's the reason to use that famous disclaimer that any resemblance to anyone living or dead is purely coincidental.

One last thought back into the less serious side. If they are really bad people and not just real bad-people and you know where all the bodies are buried; I'd think that you'd want to be sure that they never had the feeling you were describing either them or anything they might have done for fear they would be concerned about you telling too much.

'I'm just say'in...'
 

Reverent33345

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As long as you just think about that person or the committed act while writing and use those thoughts to generate emotions that you can put into writing as realistically as possible it's not a bad way to write. But as soon as you start creating characters that are physically and emotionally identifiable to real people you open a Pandora's box better left closed. There is probably a good reason why fiction works have that big disclaimer that says any similarity is purely coincidental and unintentional and I would never think of doing that, etc, etc,.
Just some physical features would be similar and emotionally he would be different than that person in real life. Only similarity would be that they are both bad people or as some of you put it "may of done bad things but we don't know for sure if they are a bad person" and have similar looks. that is it.

Although many great writers have based some of their characters on real people, there is a big potential problem with basing characters on people we know, especially if they are people we don't know very well or people we've had bad experiences with, and that problem is that we may think we know that person's motivations and can use that knowledge to make the character more realistic, but we may not know as much as we would like to think. We can never really see what is going on inside a real person's mind; we may make a good guess at what their motivations are, why they are as they are, but it will still be a guess. And say that I were a woman who had been through a nasty divorce and decided to use my ex-husband as one of my characters. I'd be so intent on presenting my own view of what happened between us and justifying my own actions, I could never give a truly fair representation of my ex- or why he did what he did. Even if he genuinely was an awful person and an awful husband and I was the most fair-minded and perceptive person in the world, I could not remove myself from the situation to that extent. ( Although, it's true that I might create a convincing portrait for fictional purposes.)

Whereas with wholly fictional characters that we create—taking a bit from this person and a bit from that person and maybe something of ourselves and some attributes we don't even know where they came from before they popped into our minds—such characters as those we CAN know from the inside out, because we created them. We know who and what they are, why they did what they did, why they didn't do what they could have done, how they feel about it afterward, what they are likely to do next, etc. etc.
Well Teresa, I think I have to explain this a little better to you. I wouldn't actually be basing a real life counterpart to that person like the same name, same background, same voice, same dress style, same home, same favorite food, same favorite intercourse position, etc, etc, etc. There would be ONLY just a few slight resemblances like the facial features, looks and expressions with only emotional resemblance is that they are BOTH responsible for doing some kind of wrong, but they are not the same person. Just in my mind or only in my head would only I see them very similar I'm basing some characteristics off of them. Not an identical cookie cutter image which would be too obvious.

Here let me give you an example of the real life person. I mean an actual REAL LIFE example, this one is not made up and really happened.

I'll even use a fake name and fake location just to avoid any kind of problems. But let's PRETEND that's his name and name of the town.

John Joe was actually a pervert in real life who spoke with a scratchy voice and had a pointy long noise, quinty eyes and small mouth, always wore a patterned tie with dark blue pants and worked in at a school church. There were many times he had sexually and physically abused me as a child growing up, causing me pain physically, emotionally and chronically in many ways and even tried to convince me to become gay at the after school church activities. He had done this abuse to other children in the past, both males and females in our hometown Stupidville Lane. Although I still don't know the extreme he went with them, he sure went far enough with me, even manipulating me so I would not take it as it was a bad thing at the time. He had continued through life to be verbally and physically abusive to other people, especially women and had even spread hateful things about me and about others who he did not like and he would always cause people to fight with eachother, even threatening me with bribes in case I would ever try to testify and confess in court and when I did try to speak, it was difficult to do anything about as it had been years passed that incident which was too long ago and the others that it happened to have moved away ever since then and were no longer around to confess what had happened.

Now here's my made up example of a FICTIONAL version of that. The year was 1670, Captain Cramble was a savage and ruthless pirate with a deep scary voice, had a pointy long nose, mustache, squinty eyes and very small mouth, wearing a long doublet coat and monmouth cap who had murdered and robbed countless ships and caused fear and terror across Margarita Island and also recruiting and kidnapping children from families, raising and manipulating them to do his dirty work as murderous thieves. A vicious and manipulative man that was known for and his ruthless ways but was an actual coward that hid behind his brainwashed men to do the fighting for him. One man, one shrewd, heroic, brave hero decides to take a stand (becoming a leader) and put and end to this monster that terrorizes the sea and families homes.

Now did I use John Joe's name? Did I mention that he had raped or sexually abused this specific person and countless others in Stupidville Lane? Did I mention he taught at a school church? Did I say he has a scratchy voice? Did I mention he loves to wear dark blue pants and a patterned tie? did I mention him spreading hate about anyone or any specific bribes? No. They are both two different people with just a few "coincidental" similarities.

This is the point I'm trying to make and I think some of you are taking this the wrong way as if I'm going to create the real life story of John Joe and write a book about him and myself.
 
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Teresa Edgerton

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It still sounds like you are trying to punish John Joe for what he did to you by portraying him as an evil pirate who takes advantage of children. And he may deserve that punishment; but the question is, will the result be effective writing. It feels too personal, and when things get too personal, it is hard to make the character well-rounded, because all we can see is what they did to us, and how devastating it was to us and to the others we knew about that he treated the same way. What made him that way you may not be equipped to say. Now if you sat someone like John Joe down and asked him why he did the things he did, you might get close (always supposing that he told you the truth, which is by no means certain), but if you are filtering him through your own feelings about what he did, you can never get close to what he truly was.

Now if you are writing this for therapy, then such writing has value. You may personally get a lot out of doing it this way. And there is absolutely nothing wrong with that. It is certainly a lot better than most of the other ways you might choose to deal with the trauma. But if you are writing to share your writing with the rest of the world through publication, if you are writing to communicate something important to readers about what such people are like, I think you sound too close to what happened to portray him accurately, and quite likely not even believably.

Yet if you were too concentrate instead on the feelings of the children he victimizes, you would have a great deal of insight to bring to writing those characters. But writing about people we feel have wronged us, even heavily fictionalized versions of them ... it's very often the road to very poor writing. That's all I am saying. You might rise above it and do something wonderful in spite of the pitfalls I've mentioned, but if you think this kind of thing is a technique to help you write better, I have never seen anyone pull it off. They end up writing cartoonish monsters instead of realistic people—which are a hundred times more frightening than the most monstrous monsters that were ever written, because they could be anyone, anywhere, anytime, and we might never suspect them.
 

Reverent33345

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You know some really bad people? I'm shocked and dismayed. Hope you don't hang with them.
Seriously though, it is difficult not to include the characteristics of people you know, however it's worse when you don't realize that you just described-so-and-so and not only that; they now are reading the book.
This is probably the sole reason for using someone close to you to edit the book at least once: reality check time.
No I don't and I'd choose not to, thank you.

Not sure if you know the person specifically, but I do and I don't intend to describe them as an actual counterpart to the real life person, but to base some of it on them which I feel would help enhance my villainous character as it helps emotionally burst my energy into the characters writing rather than try and work so hard for hours thinking up a bad person to write about when I can't create something from my own experience and just try and copy from an already existing bad guy from other stories and movies.
More importantly it's the reason to use that famous disclaimer that any resemblance to anyone living or dead is purely coincidental.

More importantly it's the reason to use that famous disclaimer that any resemblance to anyone living or dead is purely coincidental.
I see no problem with that. In fact it has happened PLENTY of times with real life resemblances of real people and fictional characters that they have coincidentally been based off of like THIS.

And this has worked numerous times with writers and has mostly been a success.

One last thought back into the less serious side. If they are really bad people and not just real bad-people and you know where all the bodies are buried; I'd think that you'd want to be sure that they never had the feeling you were describing either them or anything they might have done for fear they would be concerned about you telling too much.
I would't think of it for a second to emulate anything directly to any exact bad things they have done, especially if it was something that extreme.

I think and recall that there have been many female writers who have had bad sexual abuse experiences in real life and have written books based off there own experience and based off of that rapist. now I plan on not doing anything close to emulating my exact experience or even put myself as the victim in my book and have the bad guy be the exact abuser that did this to me. Only small resemblances to that real life person are all coincidental. I'm not sure why so many see this as a false thing to do? Who knows? Maybe it's harder from a male persons perspective who had been molested and sexual acts done to them where it's taken more seriously if it had happened to a female? Since I've read a few pages of female sexually abused and raped victims writing fictional stories and characters based on those real life experiences. Is this treated differently or taboo o write similarities based of those life experiences if it's written by a sexually abused male victim?
 

Reverent33345

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It still sounds like you are trying to punish John Joe for what he did to you by portraying him as an evil pirate who takes advantage of children. And he may deserve that punishment; but the question is, will the result be effective writing. It feels too personal, and when things get too personal, it is hard to make the character well-rounded, because all we can see is what they did to us, and how devastating it was to us and to the others we knew about that he treated the same way. What made him that way you may not be equipped to say. Now if you sat someone like John Joe down and asked him why he did the things he did, you might get close (always supposing that he told you the truth, which is by no means certain), but if you are filtering him through your own feelings about what he did, you can never get close to what he truly was.
I wouldn't say punish, I don't plan to make a mockery out of the real life person for the horrible things they did (even if they deserve it) only I the writer will know the similarities since no one else will really know who he is and just assume I'm writing a fictional character. I actually noticed some of my writing and ideas enhance greatly just from doing this as it helps me create some villains I couldn't even do on my own so why not use some life experiences for some talent if it creates and interesting backstory? It doesn't have to be personal. And I don't think John Joe needs to sit down and talk as that is not the kind of person to sit and talk with as he's continued to do the bad things afterward to other people besides me. I've noticed from female writers who have spoken to me saying things like "you don't really know the true person he was or his feelings" I'm beginning to wonder if more female writers or more females in general would feel sympathy for such a person in real life (not accusing you are one of them) but it is quite sad sometimes as I've even witnessed a few female writers get offended at me for wanting to base some fictional inspiration based off of a man that abused me in real life and even women in real life who have taken this man's abuse would run back saying "he really doesn't mean it" or "it can't be true it happened to me maybe it won't happen again" and then there are plenty of female writers who have written fictional and real life stories based on their abusers but it is rarely ever seen from a males perspective writing a fictional or real life story based on their sexual abused experiences. Me I personally plan on not writing about my experience but just use a little inspiration based off of some character of a person that done some bad things. It worked in many Disney movies, some bad guys were based off of some real life people.

Like

THIS.

Did you know J.K Rowling based Severus Snape on her real life professor that was mean? And just look how well of a success it was. Did you also know that Hunger Games from by Collins was created from things she saw in real life? Was it not a success?


Now if you are writing this for therapy, then such writing has value. You may personally get a lot out of doing it this way. And there is absolutely nothing wrong with that. It is certainly a lot better than most of the other ways you might choose to deal with the trauma. But if you are writing to share your writing with the rest of the world through publication, if you are writing to communicate something important to readers about what such people are like, I think you sound too close to what happened to portray him accurately, and quite likely not even believably.
Not if the rest of the world doesn't know who this person even is and only me and myself know and not even others who know him will know, unless someone really close to me who would notice such thing and probably be very supportive of it. And there should be no copyright issues as if I'm basing it off of someone elses written character, copying theirs, which happens a lot when writers can't come up with their own ideas or own experiences. The pirate would not be the school teacher anymore than professor Severus Snape not being Rowlings teacher.

Yet if you were too concentrate instead on the feelings of the children he victimizes, you would have a great deal of insight to bring to writing those characters. But writing about people we feel have wronged us, even heavily fictionalized versions of them ... it's very often the road to very poor writing. That's all I am saying. You might rise above it and do something wonderful in spite of the pitfalls I've mentioned, but if you think this kind of thing is a technique to help you write better, I have never seen anyone pull it off. They end up writing cartoonish monsters instead of realistic people—which are a hundred times more frightening than the most monstrous monsters that were ever written, because they could be anyone, anywhere, anytime, and we might never suspect them.
Well then now thats a possibility, I wouldn't even mind basing my protagonist or hero on one of the children he abused or just make it up completely as if it was one of them and "feel who have wronged us" again not trying to accuse you personally but what I was told something similar to this by just a small group of other women and other female writers, not sure why but sometimes I wonder if being a male raped or sexually abused male victim is sort of dismissed from putting that real life abuser or not nice person in some of their fictional work when it has been a success with other writers just seems kind of critical and almost seems like it's more common for women to defend such an abuser (not all) but it just seems more common. And again you can read through THIS and see how it was pulled off where others based their real life experience of people into their fictional work and let me know if it wasn't a success or not. And if they come off as cartoonish monsters, even better right? So no longer are they the same as that person but even worse so they are now a different character on their own.
 
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Dave

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This subject is interesting because when I've read that disclaimer in the front of books before that says "The story, all names, characters, and incidents portrayed in this book are fictitious. No identification with actual persons (living or deceased), places, buildings, and products is intended or should be inferred" then my first reaction is always to think that they most definitely must be.

I also know someone who has written a novel in which each of their real life work colleagues is killed off, one by one, in horrible, violent and unusual deaths. Obviously, it can't be published, but I think it was written mainly for cathartic reasons rather than any intention or desire to have it published.
 

Teresa Edgerton

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Well, you asked our opinions (I assume "is this OK" was not rhetorical) and you've received a number of answers, which you do not seem to agree with. It doesn't matter, we've obliged with our ideas, but in the end it is your book, your characters, and only you can make the final decision what will work for you. It sounds to me like you have already done so. Maybe explaining what you want to do and why has been useful to you—it often is for me—in clarifying in your own mind what you mean to do. If so, then it's time to put those ideas to work. The best way you can prove that it's the right way for you is by writing the book and showing us what you have accomplished. What others have accomplished (and I did say at the beginning that some people have made it work) is beside the point.
 

Reverent33345

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Well, you asked our opinions (I assume "is this OK" was not rhetorical) and you've received a number of answers, which you do not seem to agree with.
Yes I did ask if it was ok to write some inspiration based on someone I know in real life that has done bad. But from the feedback I was getting here is making it sound like I was going to write a biography based on this real life figure or a cardboard copy of that real life person, which was NEVER my intention, then being told to think of this person's feelings in real life that I might actually hurt from just using a little inspiration based on their terrible behavior and actions as if I'm going to write every little detail about what they did in real life, which I'm not.

Just seems like to much was assumed or misunderstood for what my intentions are and my question. I don't plan to write a documentary based on the history of a rapist pedophile, (which you say has feelings) all I asked was it ok to create a fictional character that is somewhat inspired by that person who was and sadly STILL is a pedophile abuser and still physically abuses people and women and not even mention real names, job's or locations. So yeah I guess my questions have been answered somewhat. I think the pirate is actually pretty tame and pg compared to the real life John Joe. But I find it funny when people actually defend pedophiles as if worrying I'm going to hurt their emotions by writing just a tad bit of inspiration on them for a fictional bad character, when imo I consider them worse than just a regular rapist but that's another subject entirely.

If Craven didn't base his true life experience from when a homeless looking creepy man tried to break into his home back when he was a child and based on his school bully, there would be no such thing as Freddy Krueger.
 

Reverent33345

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Time you contacted the police.

K2
Too late now, as I've tried in the past to make any report from what happened to me and others but it was so long ago and not many people are comfortable stepping forward today. And unfortunately, there are those who won't make a report simply because they don't mind the abuse that still happens to them, with a few of them being women who are either in denial or want to be very forgiving and tell themselves it's not his fault. Sometimes in these situations there is not much that can be done. It happens a lot in life.

Don't worry I'm not out to destroy a pedophile, child abuser and women beaters life and reputation, all I'm saying is it a really big deal to use some inspiration for a fictional made up character that is not him but just has a few resemblances that you as readers will be hard to catch and connect him to unless you spend hours upon hours reading through the same sentences over and over until you realize "hey wait, that reminds me a little of John Joe!"
 

Teresa Edgerton

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If he has really done these things (I say "if" only because I don't personally know the facts of the case, not because I doubt you) then I'm all for whatever recourse you can legally take. If that is impossible, then I am sorry to hear it. But trying to punish people in a metaphorical sense with your writing when you can't do it in any real way (and when they may not even know that you have done it) usually makes for bad literature. And bad literature rarely accomplishes its aim. That's my point, my only point. We have lawyers here who can discuss your legal jeopardy (The Judge is one) and listening to what she has to say could save you a lot of trouble in that sense. But I'm a writer and an editor and as such my only concern is the question of whether doing what you propose to do would make you a better writer. In my experience, this sort of thing generally has the opposite effect, unless the writer has had considerable time and opportunity to gain distance, which some people are never able to do (and very often for good reason—a professor who was mean to one in school has not inflicted anything like the depth of pain as someone who has abused a child's trust and scarred them deeply) and so I suggested you consider well what your reasons are for doing this and whether you might write more effectively if you chose another route.

I have nothing further to say on the point, because writing advice is just that: something for you to consider, follow if it rings true, or don't follow if it doesn't address what you need. It's not an invitation to an argument, or to prove who is right or who is wrong. It's meant to be helpful, but if you don't find it helpful then of course you should ignore it. It's your story.
 

Reverent33345

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As sad as it is to say, it really happened (or maybe it's just my imagination and this entire world is just a made up hallucinations and holograms where nothing really did happen)

Why is it bad literature though? I'm sure it's happened to me and all of us without any of us even knowing about it. Yes anyone can do that without you knowing, whether you're a good or bad person in real life and their stories have gone on to success oddly enough. Legal actions can be very tricky in these situations, especially when that person has a small group of stubborn supporters that will defend him and have anyone to prove what happened in the past, it doesn't always work with justice. I've been pretty distant from this person for so many years now, it's not like we see each other everyday, nor would I want to. I was just asking if it's bad that I use some slight inspiration which is from my own experience into something creative. Not looking to write a full word for word about a bad person with the same name and the same exact terrible things they have done in real life. It's obvious that even just using a different name, different background, different everything with some few resemblances in a fantasy fiction world is still too risky, even if it helps my creativity from what everyone n here is telling me.

I guess I would just have to make up a completely unknown character that's bad that has no similarities to that real person, wait but he could still be connected somehow to him just the fact he's a villain. Perhaps a villain that gets loved and redeemed so everyone and all the children and women in the world can fall in love with him despite the bad things he's done his reasons get justified and he becomes the hero. Would that work better? Or just avoid having any villain, bad guy or antagonist completely because anyone who's an antagonist could still somewhat be relevant to him. I wonder if he's going to press charges on Disney for creating Captain Hook who is ruthless but would hide behind others o do some of his dirty support like him in real life and could even be seen as him? Maybe it was coincidental?
 

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I'm very sorry to hear of the terrible things done to you, and we all understand how greatly this will affect everything you do, not least in your writing. Nobody here is going to dismiss or belittle your suffering, or make excuses for your abuser.

I think however, that you're rather missing the point of the replies you've received.

There are two problems using a real life person as a base for your character, and we've touched on both. The first, which I hoped I explained satisfactorily, is the issue of defamation. It's perhaps unlikely this man would (a) recognise himself in your writing or (b) take any action even if he did. But no lawyer would ever say something is wholly risk-free, and it's always up to you whether you take that risk. We certainly can't advise you any further than to point that out.

The second issue is whether using this man as a base for a character will harm your writing and your story, which Teresa in particular has dealt with in detail.

When we're asked to advise about writing characters, we give the advice that we think works best, at least best for us. In particular, we know the way to write real characters and not simply caricatures is to give them hopes and fears, good points and bad points. This applies just as much to the bad guys as it does to the heroes. If a baddie is evil just because he is evil, he will be unbelievable, and the story will suffer as a result.

To write someone, I find it helps to become that someone temporarily, like an actor taking on a role. I doubt that I could do that if I were basing a character on someone in real life who had hurt me (or anyone around me) so very badly, because I would be unable to understand why he acted as he did. Which isn't to excuse his actions -- he has free will and must take responsibility for what he has done -- but to discover what has happened on his journey in life to lead him down that road of being evil. Without that, he will be two dimensional, and cardboard cut outs may be fine in comedic settings or comic books, but they rarely succeed in making good writing.

EJDeBrun has confirmed how she uses real people as her characters, namely that she starts with them, but by the time she's finished, the character on the page no longer has much resemblance to the character in real life. That is great, because she now has an invented character whom she knows inside and out, including both good and bad aspects. If you can do that, fine. But the question is, whether in the circumstances of this man's horrific behaviour you are capable of doing it. Only you can answer that.

The style and content of your posts suggests that you are getting upset at our comments, and to be frank it strikes me that is perhaps because we are not giving you the answer you want. Although you asked us whether it's OK to base your baddie on this man, it does seem that what you actually wanted was for us to give you permission to do so. But whatever our thoughts on the issue, you don't need our permission. If you want to write him into your story, in however disguised a form or otherwise, then do so. It's your story.

However, there seems little point in your continuing to argue with us, pointing out cases which you believe mirror your own or where other authors have managed this successfully. If you want to do this, do it. If you don't like what we've said, ignore us and go your own way.

Whatever you do, good luck with it.
 

Reverent33345

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I'm very sorry to hear of the terrible things done to you, and we all understand how greatly this will affect everything you do, not least in your writing. Nobody here is going to dismiss or belittle your suffering, or make excuses for your abuser.
Thanks, I appreciate it.


There are two problems using a real life person as a base for your character, and we've touched on both. The first, which I hoped I explained satisfactorily, is the issue of defamation. It's perhaps unlikely this man would (a) recognise himself in your writing or (b) take any action even if he did. But no lawyer would ever say something is wholly risk-free, and it's always up to you whether you take that risk. We certainly can't advise you any further than to point that out.
See I think I may have explained this the wrong way why some are already assuming I will be causing some type of libel onto somebody else, even if this person doesn't deserve to have the job they have now, that's not my intent to go out and ruin this guys reputation even if he does deserve it. I think a better example is say someone who had a bad experience with say be it a spouse or best friend they've known for almost all their life and have been together and almost would see each other every single day. But they didn't get along, one of them ended up being the bad apple, etc, etc. Then it would probably be more obvious if that person were to right about their ex friend or spouse, brother in-law, sister in-law, etc. While the person I would be writing or just using some slight inspiration from is someone who I have not spent much time together with since my childhood years which I would be using my influence from and within the more recent years of seeing that person and how much they have NOT changed and even hearing of now that that person now works with adults, mostly to women and is to this day physically and verbally abusive to them, and continues to get away with it, only shows that this person has not changed and will continue to do what they do. I can no longer do anything about it because after making a report to the police from something so long ago takes a lot of evidence to prove any sexual abusive activity was conducted. But where not here to discuss legal actions. I'm here to discuss my stories and HOW can I write this without it being so obvious. I get the risk involved with doing this and I get you and Teresa explained to me why this would be wrong in many ways, the point is if I wanted to, what are ways it would not be as risky?

The second issue is whether using this man as a base for a character will harm your writing and your story, which Teresa in particular has dealt with in detail.
I get that both of you have been trying, but I don't feel it was answered fully.

When we're asked to advise about writing characters, we give the advice that we think works best, at least best for us. In particular, we know the way to write real characters and not simply caricatures is to give them hopes and fears, good points and bad points. This applies just as much to the bad guys as it does to the heroes. If a baddie is evil just because he is evil, he will be unbelievable, and the story will suffer as a result.
That I understand, which is why I'm asking if I choose to go through with this, how could I make it so he's not a cardboard villain but still an evil bad guy but not in a cliche way. How can I? And without telling me "it's a bad idea" "don't do it" "I'm making a mistake" or "pedophiles sexual abusers and violent bausers have feelings too" how can I write this character so it doesn't seem too much like a cardboard image? Without makng him a likable villain?

To write someone, I find it helps to become that someone temporarily, like an actor taking on a role. I doubt that I could do that if I were basing a character on someone in real life who had hurt me (or anyone around me) so very badly, because I would be unable to understand why he acted as he did. Which isn't to excuse his actions -- he has free will and must take responsibility for what he has done -- but to discover what has happened on his journey in life to lead him down that road of being evil. Without that, he will be two dimensional, and cardboard cut outs may be fine in comedic settings or comic books, but they rarely succeed in making good writing.
Exactly so what can I do to avoid that from happening but still create it?


The style and content of your posts suggests that you are getting upset at our comments, and to be frank it strikes me that is perhaps because we are not giving you the answer you want. Although you asked us whether it's OK to base your baddie on this man, it does seem that what you actually wanted was for us to give you permission to do so. But whatever our thoughts on the issue, you don't need our permission. If you want to write him into your story, in however disguised a form or otherwise, then do so. It's your story.

However, there seems little point in your continuing to argue with us, pointing out cases which you believe mirror your own or where other authors have managed this successfully. If you want to do this, do it. If you don't like what we've said, ignore us and go your own way.
I may only seem upset is because I don't feel everything has been answered for my question. I get that both of you have been a great help in giving me the advice on what could go wrong and why it's not the right thing to do, but if I really want to because it is my story and my writing, no one else can write it for me but me, how and what tips can I take to make it so it's not so easy noticeable that "yep! That is so John Joe!" so it can only be my own experience even if shared with others who knows maybe it can help others, maybe help others to be aware there are people like this in the world and sometimes so tires whether real, fantasy fiction can sometimes help others learn messages, I feel every story sends us a message the reader or movie director is trying to show to others. How can I be that guy without making it such an obvious cut out so it would be unlikely that person would even know? Or may notice a resemblance and just assume I'm using from my own life experience that he traumatized me from but can;t be accused of a personal attack on him personally? Can this questions be answered for me without telling me "it is wrong" or "please think about this man and how you might hurt him"
 

Brian G Turner

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Well, people have been trying to answer your questions, but you seem so twisted in knots about portraying a specific person from your past that you seem to have difficulty listening. :)

In which case, just write the story to get it out of your system, then see where things go. :)
 

Reverent33345

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What I'm saying is that it seems like I'm being denied the idea of writing a character based on or has some similarities to this person, that it's a bad idea and should be avoided. Thing is if I choose not to avoid it, what are the best tips I can use to write this character so this person or anyone close to him can't falsely accuse me of doing anything libel. And telling me I should feel for this monster in real life that maybe he didn't mean to do these horrible things he's done or I could of misunderstood him as a child growing up, hasn't been helping this situation any further so perhaps I'm not asking the right questions, maybe I worded it wrong, or perhaps some on here are misunderstanding my questions or are not aware of how I plan to write this character, maybe assuming I will give out his name, carbon copy and real life description in my writings which I would never do and hey through my writings I could even develop him into his own unique character who just happens to share a few similarities to this real life abuser. But from what it seems maybe this site may not be the best place to discuss or present my writings, maybe I'm just not at the right place, sorry for any inconvenience I may of caused anyone here.
 
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