The occasional observations of Carolyn Kephart, writer

Tuesday, September 30, 2008


1:11 AM PDT, September 30, 2008

Now and again I'm asked if I use specific people as templates for the characters I write about. I always reply that I prefer to create people that I wish existed.

The closest I've ever come to basing fiction on reality happened some years ago, when I participated in a collaborative fantasy tale on a now-defunct forum. The other writers were so incredibly good--I've never seen such varied talent assembled in such quantity before or since -- that it was a privilege to join them. I contributed a storybook princess who embodied the most predictable features of the quintessential Mary Sue. Stunning good looks, a quick way with a sword, a deft hand with Rachmaninoff...she could have easily been insufferable, had it not been for her constant run of abysmally bad luck. I remember it being said that people felt too sorry for her to hate her.

What I most liked about my princess was getting the chance to be her. She was not demonstrative, but she felt deeply. She loved beauty. She was gentle and generous and brave. She could no more betray a confidence than she could lay bare the secrets of her heart -- an obstinacy not conducive to happy endings.


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