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Creating Characters out of Real People, and Creating People with Real Character

How do you portray sons and daughters, parents and siblings, teachers, friends, and others you know… in a book? Is it easier or harder to include people you know? The answer might surprise you. Let’s talk about it – and maybe even write about it.

Naomi Milliner

45 Minute Program



If you think it was easy to write Super Jake & the King of Chaos - considering it was inspired by life with my three sons - you’d be right.

You’d also be wrong.

I wrote the first draft in 2003; it was published in 2019.

One of the biggest reasons it took that long was because I was so close to the material; maybe a little too close.

Authors often advise aspiring writers to “write what you know.” It’s good advice… to a point. From my experience, though, for every advantage of writing what you know, there’s a disadvantage that goes along with it. The trick: finding the right balance between reality and fiction.

Join me and we’ll talk about the pros and pitfalls of basing characters on people you know. And, for aspiring writers, we’ll conclude with a writing workshop and explore some of the characters – real and fictional – in your life.

About the Author

Too short to play basketball and too squeamish to be a surgeon, Naomi Milliner decided instead to pursue the glamorous career of children’s book author. Her debut novel, Super Jake & the King of Chaos, is loosely based on life with her three sons, the youngest of whom had special needs. You can read more about Naomi and her sons here:

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The Write Stuff: Discovering the Hero in SUPER JAKE... and in You

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Finding the "Special" in Special Needs

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