Using Famous People as Characters

Here is a bonus Saturday blog to make up for the fact that I didn’t blog on Tuesday. It goes along with yesterday’s blog on character, but with a different twist.

Yesterday I wrote about characterization and how to flesh out a character idea you might have by asking yourself some simple questions. Today, I want to discuss using characters that already exist. Now you may be asking yourself, “Aren’t there legal ramifications to do that?” Why yes, yes there are. That is why you must disguise the character so you can’t be sued for libel. But rather than use a character as you see them in a book or in the media, why not pick out the traits you like best from the character and use those. You need an example? Okay, let me provide one.

Donald Trump. This guy would make a great character in lots of different types of novels. But you can’t quote him, or describe him physically without risking a libel suit. So, whether you like the guy or not, what character trait do you think is most interesting about him? Well for me, it is his big mouth. He will say anything to garner attention in the media. Some think he doesn’t mean most of what he says and just wants attention. Others take him at his word. Still others just hate every word that comes out of his mouth. No matter what he says, almost everyone has an opinion about it. Could you create a character with that trait that people either love or hate or hate to love?

People in the media provide all sorts of fodder for writers. What about stupid criminals? Ever thought about using one of those in a story? How about YouTube sensations? Look at the memes–they could wind up being your next character.

While I tend to use traits of people I know personally as characters, using bits and pieces of media celebrities works as well. I plan to study Trump more in the coming months, even though I hate paying attention to a lot of politics. I never know when I need someone like him as a character.  Have a great weekend all, and I will see you Monday with the week’s health update. Hopefully I will not need to post those much longer.


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