I’ve talked before about not using real people in books. I mean, to a certain extent you have to write what you know – and probably what you see every day. So if one of your characters just happens to have the same hairstyle as the administrative assistant at the front desk, for example – that’s probably fine.
But what about fake people?
In my book, Abby has a secondary job running something called the Midnight Marketplace. It’s a sort of storefront that sits between worlds and all kinds of crazy creatures come in to buy things. Some of these characters actually end up being in the story proper, but most of them are just there to fatten up the scene. Many of them are characters I’ve made up specifically, but a few are cameos of characters I’ve either played in online pbp games or written up in unrelated stories.
Even the romance novel that Brystion flips through is nothing more than a play on characters that Kendris and I wrote for an online game (and still write independently from time to time). We have no plans to ever publish any part of it – it’s just rambling, smutty mind candy. (And a hell of a lot of fun.)
And keep in mind, I never list any of these characters by name – it’s purely a quick description here or there – just a nod of thanks to the people I’ve played or written with over the last few years. For the most part, you would either have to be the creator or have played in one of those games to actually recognize who they were.
But, here’s the thing. Up until about four years ago, I hadn’t written anything since college – so call that at least ten years of non-writing. And then I got involved in pbp games and I discovered I wasn’t too bad at it. Then an online friend and I took our characters and spun off an 80,000 word story for fun. We didn’t even really have a plot until about half-way through, and it took us about a year to write – via emails and IM.
It wasn’t perfect, but it opened me back up to the world of writing. We played around with the idea of getting it published, but I knew it was going to need a lot of work – a reconstructed plot, better worldbuilding, massive editing. In short, it would be a pretty large project and it was going to take some time. In between these discussions and the beginnings of the edits, I decided to write a solo project – which turned out to be Shadow of the Incubus (or A Brush of Darkness, as it’s now called).
Unfortunately, things didn’t work out – not with the story and not with my friend. In fact, we are pretty much on non-speaking terms at this point. And I’ve got no desire to air out the details. Mistakes were made on both sides and that’s all I can say. But I was rather heartbroken at the way it went down. And I am heartbroken about this story that is now sort of dead in the water. I have started rewriting it as a solo project – without her characters, of course. Hard thing to do when we were originally writing a romance. It won’t be the same story at all and I know that.
In the meantime, I had already put our character cameos in my Incubus book. I’ve debated taking them out – because it’s a bit bittersweet – kind of like slapping myself in the face for something that will never happen.
But regardless of what occurred down the line, the truth of it is that if it hadn’t been for my friend – if we hadn’t written our little story together – I would never have had the guts to strike out on my own. And I wouldn’t be where I am now.
And so I’m going to leave them in. I owe them too much to do otherwise.