The style of writing about public figures using, made-up characters, was defined by French novelist, Madeleine DeScudery, in the Seventeen century. She wanted to write about public figures, so she disguised them with made-up names; and altered personalities. She also altered all actual events by writing events that resembled the original happenings. This style became known as “The Roman a’ Clef,” translated from French meaning, “novel with a key”.
If you are considering writing characters inspired by real people, here are a few helpful tips to avoid anyone recognizing similarities, that may result in a lawsuit.
- Change your character’s name…no matching initials; no rhyming. Change hair color and style, facial features, description, body physique, wardrobe, family and backstory.
- If in real life, your character has daughters, give him or her sons. Married, or single. Do not forget the backstory.
- Combine two real life characters, into one. It will make your character more interesting. If in real life, your character is a private person, change to a winning personality, or give the character an amazing storyline, to give more exposure.
- Be careful of duplicating too many traits of your real person.
- Do not allow the characters to dictate your story. Your story is always first.
- If after reviewing all your characters you find that one of the characters gets in the way of your story, try to change its personality. If that does not seem to work, drop that character.
Good Luck! Paula