[Guest Blog] Do I Base My Characters on Real People? by Violet Grey

I’m delighted to be hosting Violet’s second Coffee & Kink guest blog today (check out her first here!) Violet is a brilliant smutty writer and a delightful human. Check out her work and give her a follow on Twitter!

Do I base my characters on real people?

This is a question I’m asked a lot as a writer: Do I base my characters on real people? I’m a writer and blogger. What do I write about? Sex. Lots of sex. IRL sex, erotic fiction, vanilla, kinky, you get the idea. I create characters that get off with each other and have a great time doing it. I imagine different sexy scenarios and create a story surrounding it.

Regardless of what I write, I still get asked that one question: Do you base them on real people?

The honest answer is yes… sometimes.

One of the biggest pieces of writing advice I’ve ever been given is to draw inspiration from what surrounds you. Personal experiences, something seen in the news, a piece of history (Margaret Atwood did this with The Handmaid’s Tale, so you’ll be in good company!) It’s not uncommon (in fact it’s very common) for writers to do this. I am guilty of basing some of my male protagonists’ looks after gorgeous men I see on the train or when walking down the street. Or a celebrity crush. Sam Worthington? Phwoar!

The ethics question…

But there’s an ethical stance to this question we need to consider. Especially so when it comes to romantic and erotic fiction. Where do you draw the line? How far is too far?

We’ve all heard of the stories of the creepy dedication to the love interest. A fictional character based entirely on this person, right down to the last idiosyncrasy. The result is neither erotic nor even romantic. It’s outright questionable and can end uo going down a truly sinister road indeed. Law & Order, anyone? Long story short: don’t be that person.

How do I approach IRL inspiration?

I can only speak for myself here: for a character that’s inspired from IRL, I tend to use snippets from various things and splice them together. Physical traits. Personality traits. A stylish coif or a broad stature. A dimple in the cheek when they smile. How they enjoy watching NFL or having a beer at a sports bar on a Thursday night.

A little bit like layering a few real things with your own twist on them. That’s what I personally recommend as writer when bringing real life into sexy time writing, if you chose to do so. It’s not compulsory and this is not the case for every story I write. In fact, most of my characters are inspired from photographs, music and fantasies one often sees in erotica and romance i.e. the billionaire playboy or the wholesome cowboy. Sounds cliché, I know, but I am a sucker for it.

Layering your inspiration

When I create a character, I like to think of it a bit like a cake recipe (yes, my very British obsession with Bake Off is showing. I’m not sorry!) You have your ingredients: flour, butter, sugar and eggs. This is your foundation.

  • Who is your character?
  • What do they do?
  • What do they look like?
  • What are their hobbies?

Then you’ve got your flavourings, like vanilla (no pun intended), peppermint, chocolate, whatever you like.

  • What are their kinks?
  • What do they enjoy in bed?
  • Are all their kinks (if they have any) sexual or non-sexual?
  • Do they have any conditions that can affect that?

And finally, the decorations: put your own little finishing twists on them to make them stand out. What makes, for example, a particular dominant man different from all the others? Does he have a penchant for a particular kind of aftercare? Does he shower his sub with gifts? Is he strict, soft, or a bit of both? What is it that will make him desirable to your readers?

These are all questions to ask yourself when drawing from snippets around you. It’s not so much about imitating, it’s about breaking down and splicing together, to create your own. Before you know it, you’ll have a character you can work with. And if it doesn’t work? Well, like any recipe, you can always start again.

If you want to guest blog for me, send me a pitch!

Ten Fun or Meaningful Things to Do On International Celebrate Bisexuality Day

Did you know that September 23rd marks International Celebrate Bisexuality Day? Also known as Bi Visibility Day, ICBD is observed by members of the bi community and our allies and supporters, and is used to campaign for greater bisexual visibility, to celebrate bi history and culture, and to show pride in our identities and those of the bi people we love.

If you’re low on energy today, or this is the first time you’ve heard of ICBD, here’s some easy and fun ways you can celebrate and make a difference!

1. Wear something purple

Purple is the internationally recognised colour of bisexuality. I think this originally came from the idea of purple as a mix of pink (gay) and blue (straight), which is a little problematic. But, hey, we have our own colour!

If you don’t have the energy to do anything else today – and that’s A-okay! – then why not put on a purple shirt, scarf, shoes or other accessory to show your bi pride?

2. Tell the bi folks in your life that you love them

If you’re monosexual (gay or straight), this is a great time to reach out and support the bi people in your life. A “happy bisexuality day!” from a gay or straight friend has never failed to make me smile on September 23rd.

And if you’re bi, reach out to your fellow bisexual friends, partners and allies, wish them a happy ICBD, and maybe get together for some cake?

3. Share bi content on social media

A retweet, a share or a comment goes a long way towards supporting the visibility and normalisation of bi people on social media. Obviously your comfort levels will vary, and I would never ask someone to out themselves if they weren’t ready or put themselves at any risk, but if you can safely post on social media about queer issues, try these on for size:

“Did you know September 23rd is International Celebrate Bisexuality Day? Just popping up to remind y’all that I’m still bi, regardless of my relationship status! I’ll be wearing purple to show my pride today. Will you wear something purple to show your support?”

“Did you know September 23rd is International Celebrate Bisexuality Day? I’m (straight/gay), but I support my bisexual friends! I’m wearing purple today in solidarity. Will you?”

4. Bust some myths

Hear someone say that bisexuality isn’t real, that bisexuality erases trans folks and enforces the gender binary, or that people can only be bi if they’re attracted to men and women exactly 50/50? Bust those myths! If it’s safe to do so, speak up! Explain why they’re wrong (see the linked articles for inspiration). Stand up for the bisexual people in your life and don’t tolerate biphobia when you see it.

5. Consume some bi media

Read books by bi authors (Virginia Woolf, Alice Walker, Robyn Ochs, Rachel Kramer-Bussell, Jennifer Baumgardner…). Listen to music by bi artists (Freddie Mercury, Lady Gaga, David Bowie, Pink, Amy Winehouse…). Watch films or TV shows with bi storylines (try Imagine Me & You, Brooklyn Nine-Nine, Call Me By Your Name, the Dragon Tattoo trilogy, Loving Annabelle, Steven Universe…). Share content by your favourite bi bloggers, vloggers, indie writers and content creators (I’ll be doing a separate post on this later).

6. Give your favourite bisexual some cake

It’s well known that bisexuals love cake. It’s our little way of reclaiming that stupid “have your cake and eat it too” expression. Today is a great day to give your favourite bisexual (even if that’s yourself!) some cake.

7. Donate to causes that support bi people

LGBTQ+ causes have historically been pretty shitty about including either the B or the T in their work. Thankfully, this is improving, and there are now organisations specifically dedicated to improving the lives of bisexual people.

The Bisexual Index highlights and combats biphobia, works for bi inclusion in events such as Pride, and connects bi people to resources and community. They also have super-cute merch.

Bisexuals of Colour is a fantastic group for Black, Minority Ethnic and Mixed Heritage bisexual people. Check out their Tumblr and donate via Paypal (bis.of.colour at gmail dot com).

Biscuit is an online magazine and organisation for “modern bisexual women, femmes and those assigned female at birth”. If you experience life at the intersection of misogyny and biphobia, Biscuit is for you. You can donate at their homepage.

MindOut are the LGBTQ-specific arm of Mind, the UK’s mental health charity. Did you know that bisexual people are among the most likely to struggle with a mental health issue at some point during their lives? MindOut is dedicated to combating mental ill health within the LGBTQ+ community and as far as I can tell their bi inclusion is fantastic.

8. Subscribe to a bi magazine

Bi Community News keeps you in the loop about all the fun things happening in the UK-wide bisexual scene – and it’s only £12 for an entire year!

9. Support bi and queer porn makers

You know by now that you should be paying for your porn, yes? Well, what about awesome ethical feminist porn featuring real queer women having real sex? Check out Crashpad Series and Ersties to support awesome women-owned-and-created porn.

10. Plan to go to a bi event

Going to BiCon in 2019? It’s the highlight of the bisexual year and I really recommend checking it out if you can! Failing that, there are regular bi groups in cities up and down the country – check out this list and find one near you, and make a plan to go along. You’ll  be sure to make some friends and allies.

What are YOU doing to celebrate ICBD? Tweet me or comment and let me know.

This post contains affiliate links. All opinions, as ever, are my own. If you want to support my coffee-and-cake habit for bisexuality day, you can do so via Ko-Fi.