General · Writing

I’ll kill you in my book!

Don’t cross a writer. If you make them angry enough, they might just include you in their book and give you a horrible death or put you in nasty circumstances that will haunt your nightmares… or something like that, haha.

Have you heard someone say that before? I remember reading something similar the other day, and it made me chuckle for a moment before I realised that, hey, it could happen. Many people pour elements of their own lives in the books they write, so what’s to stop them from incorporating a person they know into their stories and just giving them a gruesome death?

Well, they can’t say we didn’t give them fair warning, right?

It doesn’t necessarily have to involve killing them, of course. For example, a writer smitten by a person in real life but whose affection isn’t returned may write themselves into a romantic relationship with their object of affection. You could take out revenge on someone who did you wrong, you could win yourself the lottery, you could become a celebrity… the possibilities are truly endless, and there’s no-one to stop you. No-one to prove that any of the characters are in any way related to you. I actually shudder to think of what might’ve happened to the world had writers possessed the ability to turn their words into reality… oh the number of apocalypses we’d have to endure!

Personally however, I prefer not to include elements of my life in my books. I like to keep myself aloof, an outsider… if I write my own situations in a book, I feel I may become biased and force the story to go in a direction it would’ve stayed away from if it weren’t for my intervention. I could take bad events and turn them into what I want, something flowery and happy and also completely unrealistic… and that’s the last thing I want, especially when I try so hard to make sure my stories sound natural enough. I don’t want to be a self-insert.

What’s your take on this? Do you include elements of your life in your stories, or do you prefer to keep fiction and reality separate?

42 thoughts on “I’ll kill you in my book!

  1. I definitely take elements from my life into stories. I find it interesting that you wouldn’t, since it seems to me we’d have to instinctively use our own experiences.

    I take bits and pieces from various people and then fill in the gaps for my characters. I take certain situations as a basis and then once again modify them into story lines.

    1. Well, I know many writers do that, but I never – consciously at least – taken something from my life and put it in my novel. I tend to write without plotting, so maybe that plays a part!

  2. For the most part I keep reality and fiction separate. There is one book series that has almost exclusively characters created from their real life counterparts, so I was able to have a lot of fun with that (lighthearted banter, constant breaking of the fourth wall), but everything else pretty much stays its own story. I kind of prefer it that way. It seems better for the sake of the story if its not bound in any way to the real world, much less by way of people I don’t like in the first place.

    1. I still have to read that book. I mean… uhm. =x Yeah, I prefer to keep them separate too. xD If there was a person I didn’t like in there, I might not feel like working on the story!

  3. I include some elements of my own life and experiences in my drabbles but that’s only after a lot of hemming and hawing. I hate doing that unless it adds to me understanding more of what the character goes through/lives with.

    I get where you’re coming from, though. When I was younger (and thought every story or life in the world ended with a pretty little rainbow), most of my short stories. story ideas, or little drabbles were what I now see are unrealistic. The characters were always exceptionally happy and very cookie-cutter. Imagining something outside of what you know in your life (like how I knew that unrealistic happiness because I was a naive child) helps you make a fascinating story and explore the tragedies and recovering without really having to experience them. If that makes sense?

    Oh, and I love that tote that you used in the picture! I’m very tempted to buy it, or something like it ^_^

    1. It does make sense! I’ve always had a pretty sheltered life, so I don’t have anything to base my stories upon. Instead I have to rely on my imagination and observation. My old stories had pretty happy characters too, and they were too far from reality because I only wrote based upon said sheltered life. Basically what you said.
      And same here! I wish I could find the place that sells it!

  4. Well… I sometimes incorporate the emotions after having lived through certain events in my life into my writing, but generally never the events themselves. Makes sense? I DO love stealing traits from people around me, however, and built them into my characters. So technically, one could say my friends and foes live dangerously… *grins*

    1. I suppose it does make sense! Some people can act as inspiration for characters! And do your friends know about that? xD

  5. Perhaps you can take a real life experience and transform it so much you won’t even recognize it! Some writers (Hemingway) only, or mostly, wrote about things they knew, encountered, and experienced. Others relied on their imagination (or the power of observation?) to construct their plots. 🙂 Jane Austen wrote about marriage, never being married herself.
    And that tote is brilliant! 😀 (I am suppressing the urge to browse for one like that)

    1. That could happen! I may be doing that without even being aware of it! Though mostly I think I rely on my imagination than anything else.
      And it’s great, isn’t it? =D I would love to find something like it!

        1. Maybe it could be a custom order of some sort! You could buy a tote then get that quote printed on it.

  6. I’m an open book – almost literally, lol. Much like my favorite author Stephen King, if you read enough of my writing, you can’t help but know a lot about how I grew-up, the issues I struggled with, and the experiences I’ve lived through. I’m not so sure I’d know how to ‘not’ put myself in a piece I’m writing. Maybe if I change perspectives – so far, all of my work is through the eyes of a female lead, hmmm. You’ve definitely given me some “food for writing”. Thanks!

    1. Haha, see, I’m the exact opposite. I can never put myself in my books! And changing perspectives is a good idea. A male POV would compel you to think of different situations and feelings.

      1. Sorry – that capital MY was a typo – I didn’t mean to put such an emphasis on it… It was fascinating to read your post and see how you work

        1. Oh no, don’t worry. xD I didn’t think you meant anything bad by it. I find it fascinating to see how other writers work, too!

  7. Women I fancy – totally appear as characters in my stories. I sometimes hope by doing such a thing they’ll take notice of me, for in a book, they will live forever! In reality they’ll just fade away, so technically, I am granting them the gift of invincibility (?)

  8. I loved reading all the comments. Up until recently all my stories have lived very crowdedly in my head. I think I am on the fence. I find my characters are bits and pieces of people around me both friends and aquaintences. None 100% of either. As for myself….sometimes…however; I feel I draw from exposure mostly. Be it mine or through a friends. The majority is all my imagination…my crazy insane imagination. Great post. Got me thinking. 🙂

    1. Haha, I’m starting to feel like I’m a minority here, because many people seem to draw inspiration from the people around them, even if not 100%. But it’s good that you rely on your imagination too; things can be more exciting when you write things you don’t really know. =D
      Thank you for your comment!

      1. I think it’s great your imagination is able to be so fulfilling! One of my biggest fears in writing is having someone read something and look at me like…wow, you are really messed up!

        1. You know, people have told me that before, especially when reading my horror stories. But they were sure never to cross me after that, so it all turned out well!

  9. Interesting thought… I don’t consciously use other people, but the heroines are usually – very loosely – based on myself, or rather, how I’d like to be. Or some aspect of me. Not obviously, I hope, but yeah, that’s how I connect with them. Hm, I’m not expressing that very well… I just think it would be very, very hard to write a person that is totally alien to yourself, at least for the main character.

    1. I understood what you’re trying to say, and perhaps you’re right. For example, the MCs in Puppet Parade do not relate to me at all, but the MC in my current WIP is a writer, and I’ve had to work some of my own habits – that I thought could be common to all writers – into her.

  10. I mostly just write short stories, but people I know and situations we’ve experienced do show up a lot. It helps that most of the stuff I write is done anonymously, so I don’t need to worry about them recognizing themselves, otherwise it might get embarrassing.

    1. Well that’s good! And a wise move on your part to hide your identity; you don’t want people coming after you for including them in your stories! What happens if you wish to publish though?

        1. Pseudonym or not, the source can always be found out after some research, haha. And it’s good that you’re trying out the things you like!

  11. Well, I do like mixing both. I like to give it a bit of a realistic base, so it won’t sound “too” fictional and far-fetched, you know?

    1. I think I know what you mean! Though I prefer to observe others in order to get a realistic base, rather than use my own life.

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