Real People by Jason Rekulak
Pat Conroy hit bestseller lists with his novel The Prince of Tides – but Conroy’s sister recognized so much of herself in the story that she never spoke to her brother again. This kind of family reaction is a serious concern for many of us, and often the fear will develop into full blown writers block. After all, how can you write honestly about the failings of your father if you’re certain he’ll recognize himself in your manuscript? Thankfully, there are simple techniques for disguising any real-life individuals who inspire your fiction. You can modify or exaggerate a person’s physical appearance – give Dad an extra thirty pounds. perhaps, or change the color of Mom’s hair. Changing their occupations is another good idea – many people define themselves almost exclusively by their careers. Also, feel free to blur or change the relationships among your characters. If you’re writing very auto-biographical fiction, the character of your sister could easily be a roommate, cousin, best friend or co-worker. Your father could appear in the guise of a boss, neighbor, teacher of shopkeeper. By consciously altering the truth, you’ll actually develop your characters into more “real” fictional creations.
Thank you Jason. Now readers – it’s your turn. Have you used a family member as a profile for a character in your book? Did you alter as Jason suggests, or is your character a mirror image of…. the sister that could do no wrong?… the father that never stood up to your domineering mother?…. the grandmother that kept it all together?…
I’ll go first. In my first novel, Accident, the grandmother, Esther is a blended version of my own mother and my grandmother, who, incidentally, really was named Esther and did speak broken Swedish.
Tell the story of a job interview that goes badly.
The more your character wants the job, the better the story will be. ………. Jason Rekulak
Oh boy. I can tell of an interview gone bad.
I had worked in a different state selling real estate for over ten years, but after a move to a new state, and knowing that it takes years to build a client base in real estate in a new town, it was time for a change. I didn’t have two years to build my client base. So I decided I needed a salaried job that would offer me some stability. The only thing I could find related to real estate – sort of – it was renting commercial space in the buildings this company owned. I figured “sales is sales,” so how hard would selling rental space be? But when the interview turned to experience and the talk turned to net leases and triple net, I was lost. But desperate as I was, I plundered ahead, nodding my head and digging myself deeper by the minute. I am not a liar, but I found myself twisting the truth to get the job. It was obvious that I was not being believed. I am the worst liar, and even more so when I am nervous or desperate. I left that interview defeated and lost. What was I to do? But miracles of miracles, I got a call back. He was going to hire me. He implied he knew how inexperienced I was in commercial leasing (that was an understatement) but he admired my tenacity and determination and thought I could use that same aggressiveness to find tenants throughout the city for his spaces. I got the job. (Note: I did very well at it but hated commercial leasing – I went back to residential sales.)
Now it’s your turn. What interview did you botch? Did you still get the job?
Here is Jason’s tip #2
“Describe your first brush with danger.” Jason Rekulak
Thank you Jason.
Readers, what about you? My first brush with danger was when I set the latrine on fire at Girl Scout Camp when I had the kerosene lantern turned up too high. Interesting that Jason’s picture and my “brush with danger” both included fire.
As writers, we often here people talk about writer’s block. I thought it was all hooey. In my mind, writing is a decision you make. It surely will require edits and rewrites but I just did not accept “writer’s block” as anything but an excuse. Until now- talk about block. I could not come up with a single thing that started with U. So U is for unknown. And I will never again say I don’t believe in writer’s block.
Do you believe in writer’s block? If so, how do you overcome it?