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By Johannes Helmold

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prototype real lifeI’ve already written several posts where I gave some useful (hopefully) advice on how to create characters a reader could believe in. However, I forgot about one crucial thing—and, as it always happens, the most obvious one.

What I am talking about here is using real-life prototypes as a basis for what you describe in your novel or story. Here, I mean not only characters copied from real people, but also locations, interiors, daily experiences, and so on. This is, perhaps, the easiest way to make your character seem like a real person, because you do not have to invent anything new—you simply copy, and then make some cosmetic enhancements. This method is also beneficial, because rather often you can copy not only physical or psychological portraits, but also real attitudes to this or that person.

Whom of your readers would know that the appearance of one of your secondary characters, a stylish but unpleasant person, is copied from your next-door neighbor who happens to be an alcoholic? Or that a kind, helpful woman in your story has the same temperament and manners as your mom? Or that the story of love and betrayal you describe (for instance) is what you are currently going through?

Perhaps only your close friends and relatives will be able to understand the trick, but as one writer said, friends and relatives are the kind of people who never read what you write. So, you are completely safe and free to copy-paste reality into your writing.

Enjoy the power!

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