I used to be a tv-a-holic. Well, I still am, but working a day job and writing full time as well means something’s gotta give, so most of my favorite shows hit the chopping block. Except for the month I had bronchitis, when I blissfully caught up on SO MUCH GOODNESS. But I digress. Watching that much television, I definitely have favorites. In fact, I love characters so much that I end up basing characters in my books on them.
Calm down. Nobody call the plagiarism police. Sometimes it is as small as the way they walk. Their rampant enthusiasm (Richard Castle! – used him in All For You) or their dark broodiness and general untalkativeness until the right woman shows up (Bobby Donnell in THE PRACTICE epitomized my hero in A Fine Romance) or something as small as the way they shoot their cuffs (Neil Caffrey in WHITE COLLAR – okay, I used his beautiful face and body, too, for my hero in Friends To Lovers, but my point was that the way he shot his cuffs? That was the casually habitual gesture of a man accustomed to the finer things in life. THAT was what I stole).
When you truly love a character, you appreciate their foibles and their attributes. That’s how they hook you – they are three-dimensional. A cartoonish, over-the-top character (think any of the Real Housewives!) is entertaining, but you don’t fall in love with them…which is an excellent tidbit to remember as you are writing, too! The TV character who got his hooks into me so deeply was Dr. Mark Sloan on Grey’s Anatomy. McSteamy. And in case you don’t know watch the show, he is that fantastic piece of man candy at the top of this post.
Is he easy to look at? Oh, yeah. But that’s sort of a pre-req for all the actors on that show. So what made him jump out at me? So much that I absolutely stole his personality for my hero in Act Like We’re In Love? He’s an unapologetic man-whore. Well, that might be a tad harsh. Let’s just say he appreciates women. Lots of ’em. But he truly appreciates women – not just the constant sex. He enjoys the way they laugh, the way they smell, every difference that is uniquely feminine. So he doesn’t just fall for the hotties. He takes the time to notice and compliment a great smile on a 60 year old, or the spectacular violet eyes in the face of a woman covered in burn scars (its a hospital show – give me a break!).
Dr. Sloan is also quite aware of his own effect on the fairer sex. He’s charming, funny, hot as hell – and knows it. His ego, self-confidence and swagger are all off-the-charts. That’s both good and bad. And when he finally falls for a woman? He comes undone. Certainly doesn’t entirely know how to handle being off the market. The utterly awesome Eric Dane found a way to make him loveable despite being arrogant, conceited (for good reason!) and more than a little sure that the world revolved around him.
So yes – I took that character. In my book, he’s not a doctor – he’s a world famous actor. But he’s got the swagger, the looks, the charisma. I loved being able to watch the tv version every Thursday night, and then buckle down to write my own take on that version the rest of the week. Don’t get me started on what happened to me when they killed him off. And I honestly don’t look at it as stealing. It was more that Dr. Sloan was the skeleton for my character – and I made him his own man.