“Be nice or I’ll put you in my novel”

A couple years ago a friend of mine gave me a large sticker which proclaimed “Be Nice or I’ll Put You in My Novel.” We had a good laugh over it, but in truth, that isn’t likely to happen. Oh, it is a ‘threat’ authors jokingly use from time to time, and I’m sure some writers do write real people into their books, but not me.

Why? Because I prefer my characters to exist solely in my head and on the page. If I base a character on someone real, that person is outside my head and off doing things I can’t control. (Wow, that makes it sound like I have control issues, doesn’t it? Bear with me.)

Characters of one’s own imagination can be excessively hard to corral into doing things the writer needs done to advance the plot. But characters cross associated with someone real? Impossible! After all, in the six or so months it takes to write a novel, is that real person going to grow as much as your character needs to grow? Or is the character going to get stunted because the author can’t see that real person doing xyz? Also, what if that real person does something absolutely terrible? Do you suddenly hate the character? Just not a good mix, in my opinion.

So, if you meet me in person, fear not: you will not be written into my novel. That said, if something exceptionally amusing occurs or is said, I may put my characters in a similar situation. For instance, under the cut is a deleted scene from Once Bitten based roughly on an actual conversation I had with someone trying to sell me something. This conversation was ultimately removed from the book because it slowed the pacing, but it still amuses me. The conversation originally occurred in Chapter 18 while Kita and Nathanial are waiting to see the Vampiric Council. This occurred directly after Nathanial broke Alistair’s arm.

“I can tell you’re an independent one, aren’t you,” Magritte said, filling the momentary silence. “You’ll want to be out on your own as soon as possible. I can see it in your face. I have to tell you though, it’s not as easy as it used to be for us vampires. Keeping up appearances and staying safe takes money, and unless you want to spend the first couple of decades slaving away at any night job you can land, your first years are going to be hard.” She reached down and pulled a pamphlet out of her purse and I realized this had the sound of a well rehearsed speech. “The great news is, I recently came across a wonderful way for us night walkers to make our fortunes quickly.”
“Oh, no. Magritte, not this again,” Samantha moaned and the other woman shot her a hard look.
“Maybe if you bought some you could cover up that tell-tale mark on your face.”
Samantha’s hand shot up to cover the small red birthmark on her cheek.
“You know nothing can hide it.” She angled her shoulders away and mumbled, “That program is a scam.”
“Kita is young and smart. I think she is capable at looking at what a great investment this would be.”
Magritte handed me the pamphlet. I glanced at it briefly; it featured lots of skincare products and makeup.
“You see,” she said, “you buy into the company. Then you can either sell the product or entice others to buy into the company under you so you can profit from their sales.”
“I didn’t think vampires needed skincare products.”
“We don’t.” She turned the page and forced the pamphlet back into my lap when I tried to give it back. “We sell the products to humans. It’s ideal. Our skin is always be perfect, no acne and not a wrinkle we weren’t turned with, so the product appears miraculously effective!”
“She is not interested.” Nathanial said from behind me. So he was paying attention.
Margritte’s large blue rounded out as she pursed her lips in a pout. “Surely you want her to be able to provide for herself? To amass her own fortune?”
“I have enough money for us both.”
“Yes, but you will give her up eventually.” Magritte leaned closer to me, dropping her voice as if she were going to reveal some great secret. “No matter how good they are to you in the beginning, no man sticks around forever.” Her eyes cut to the dark-haired vampire discussing starting teams. She looked back quickly and her face took on a forced bored look. “That’s why vampires don’t practice marriage–the divorces would get tedious. After all, humans can’t to stay married for a lifetime these days, how would we stay married for eternity? So, while the Hermit might be willing to share his fortune with you now, in a couple decades or a century from now, you’ll be on your own. It’s not a fun world to be out on your own in, take it from me. Investing in the company now will secure funds you can tuck away. Also, even once you stop actively selling, everyone you have under you will still be working for you, and you’ll receive throwbacks from their sales. This could easily be the smartest thing you can do in starting your new vampiric life.”
Nathanial plucked the pamphlet out of my hands and thrust it at the other vampire. “It sounds like a pyramid scheme to me.”
“Oh, no! Pyramid schemes are illegal.” Magritte smiled brightly. “This, is a triangle.”

I wish I could take credit for that last line, but that was actually what was said to me. Magritte is not based on the woman I was speaking to, not in the least, but as I sat across from the woman, blinking and waiting for her to indicate she was joking (she wasn’t), I just knew that line had to go in a novel. Magritte just happened to be the one most likely to say it. I guess, if I were going to have a sticker that threatened to put people in my novel, it should say “Be smart, or I’ll quote you in my novel.”

Have a great Thursday everyone!

17 Responses to ““Be nice or I’ll put you in my novel””

  1. March 4, 2010 at 2:48 pm

    That was hilarious.

  2. March 4, 2010 at 4:00 pm

    Oh, goodness!!! What a giggle!!!

    Thanks for sharing.

    Didn’t Steven King write the driver of the van that mowed him down into one of his novels? Can’t remember….

  3. March 4, 2010 at 5:14 pm

    You know this would actually happen if Vampires were real. They would prey on humans … by selling skin care products … then start a blood bank!

  4. 5 rachelaaron
    March 5, 2010 at 12:16 am

    AHAHAHA, people say this to me all the time. “I’d better watch what I say or you’ll put me in a novel!” I don’t ever tell them that most people are actually too boring to go in novels. Especially my relatives.

  5. March 5, 2010 at 10:17 am

    Thanks Cathy. I think I did hear about King doing that . . .

    David, don’t you know it!

    LOL, Rachel, how true. I’ve had people say the same thing and I just smile and shake my head. I’ve also had friends ask if I’ll write them in as a character, which usually goes along the line of “I can be a sexy XYZ . . . “–Awkward!

  6. March 5, 2010 at 8:56 pm

    Since I started writing, some of my friends ask to be in my stories. I really don’t think so. Now, that’s weird to me. One of them even told me she wanted to be a superhero in a skin tight outfit. (Minus an extra 40 or so pounds)

  7. March 7, 2010 at 10:50 am

    LOL, Melissa! Guess that is ‘make it me, but better than me, but when I read it, I’ll pretend I’m exactly like that’?

  8. 9 Teagan
    July 10, 2012 at 5:25 pm

    I think the main reason it’s a threat is that you’ll have their character go through something awful or only show their worst traits. In my case, I might base a trait (good or bad) in a certain character on someone, but not an entire character on one person. Plus, I only let really horrific things happen to my main characters or important side ones.

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