With the Silly Season about to smother my General Good Will, I’ve been proactive in sending out overdue emails to longtime friends and acquaintances. ‘Touch-bases’, ‘hi-how-are-ya’s’ and ‘long-time-no-see’s’ have been the order of the day. Mucho time and/or distance may have passed but these are the people that do reply to my emails, and the mutual exchanges of offers of visits and hosting and/or coffee are sincere.
It’s had me thinking, too: if I had a dollar for every friend I snuck into a script, I’d be twelve dollars richer; and if I had a fifty cent piece for each line of dialogue I’ve ripped off those same friends, I’d be comfortably wealthy, thank you.
Friends’re good like that.
When it comes to characters based on friends, by the second or third draft, the character has its own idea on what s/he should be doing in the story. (Usually because the friend in question may not be an astronaut/psychiatrist/assassin by trade.) The similarities with its origin begin to blur further as traits are added and/or subtracted at whim. That’s how it goes.
As for dialogue, no one’s safe. I make sure none of it’s attributable and as long as I don’t get asked directly, I can take credit for ‘creating’ it. Damn, I’m good.
Using friends and family for dialogue or characters isn’t just for some in-joke (or laziness) on my part. Their existence provides a grounding that points to some kind of Truth. It’s fun, too. And I also see it as … love letters to friends and family.
I lie, cheat and steal1 for a living – I’m a writer. Get with it.