New Poll Question

I’m curious. Do you tell people when they inspire something in your story? It could be a character, a situation, or something as simple as an item that appears in the story. Maybe this person is someone you know really well–family member, best friend, neighbor. Or maybe you don’t know them at all but you’ve watched them all summer at the pool.

Ah, do you see where this is going? Up to this point, everything has been subconsciously done on my part. This summer, for the first time, I saw something and had the thought “I want to use that in one of my stories.” It was a tattoo on one of the lifeguards. I stared for almost 2 months trying to figure out what it was (don’t worry, I had sunglasses on and was quite cunning and discrete). I still don’t know the story behind this guys tattoo, but I know what it reminded me of. That is what I’m using in my story. One of my characters now has a palm sized tattoo of flames (tear drop shaped) with an eye looking out from the center. Isn’t that cool?

Anyway, every time I see this lifeguard two thoughts now run through my head and I need your opinion to know if I’m crazy or just stupid.
1. I’m really curious to know what the real tattoo is and the story behind it.
2. I feel like I should ask if he is alright with me giving his tattoo to my bad guy.

So, what would you do? You can leave a comment or fill out the poll to stay anonymous.

I also want a picture of it. After searching hundreds of thousands of tattoo images, I can’t find anything like it. So, do I ask him if I can take a picture of his arm. Would you be weirded out by that?

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About charitybradford

Science fiction and fantasy writer and blogger. My first novel is now available--The Magic Wakes (WiDo Publishing, 2013)

Posted on August 17, 2010, in polling. Bookmark the permalink. 13 Comments.

  1. If you're writing fiction, it doesn't really matter. Everything you see and are around mixes in your head, and there's no need to tell anyone.Now if you're looking for an excuse to talk to the lifeguard, that's another thing altogether. He has a tattoo- and I've heard many an opening line begin with, "Do you have any tattoos?"

  2. When random strangers inspire things in my stories, I don't usually tell them. It would be a little weird if a stranger came up to me and told me I was going to be in her story. However, you want a picture, and this is someone you've had more continuous contact with. In this case, tell him you noticed his tattoo early in the summer and it reminded you of something in your story. Ask if you can have a picture, just to refer back to later–no need to mention the "bad guy" aspect unless he asks.

  3. I think he's be flattered! I wouldn't be worried about aproaching him. Well, if I were him I'd be chuffed.Are you a writer? Then you MUST enter this CONTEST!

  4. The worst he could say is No. On the other hand people like to be asked about themselves. Go out and ask him about the tattoo. And of COURSE ask to take a picture. ๐Ÿ™‚ And then post it for us!

  5. I think you should ask if you need to know the real story that much – otherwise invent your own story and no need to tell anyone if you don't want to. I do that all the time!

  6. Often the idea evolves so much from whatever sparked it of that it becomes unrecognisable. ๐Ÿ™‚

  7. Ask him! He'll probably feel flattered.

  8. I can't imagine he'd mind. A tattoo is something people are especially proud of.I've mentioned to people how they inspire my writing. It's a great conversation piece, actually, and if I were still single, I'd use it even more!I mentioned a couple of weeks ago to a lady whose name was really cool, that I wrote and I might have to use her name in my stories."Can you spell your name?" I asked her over the phone.She spelled it."That's a cool name! I write, and I'm always looking for neat names.""I write, too!" She said. "My book's coming out in January!"I had called to get a new bank card mailed out to me. We talked and talked about writing and inspiration and how little money there really is in writing, unless you hit the lottery, which neither of us will, but it's such a wonderful hobby, isn't it, and we both agreed to buy the other one's book, but neither of us meant it.Funny how writers do that, isn't it. I'll call you.At the end, we waded through the bank business, congratulated one another, and then I got bummed out.Because her name's already taken… – Eric

  9. Go with it, there is no need to mention it to the real guy or his tattoo. Change the details a little, you probably would anyway so it suits your character and the storyline.

  10. You know, when someone inspires something in my story, be it an object or whatever, I always tell that person, "I'm so going to use that in my book!" Not only does it flatter people that you like something of theirs or something they did, you are announcing you are a writer. But most of all… and this is super important… just about everyone wants to be immortalized in writing.So I say go for it! Ask about the tattoo, ask if you can use it and then ask if you can take a pic of it so you can describe it better without having to refer to memory because we all know how crowded memory gets when you are a writer. ๐Ÿ˜‰

  11. Speaking from the point of view of someone that does have tattoos, people come up to me all the time and ask about them. Complete strangers off the street. The only time I mind is if they practically start stripping me to see all of the detail. So, my advice is to be respectful and don't touch unless you ask first. Other than that, I'm sure he'll be happy to talk about it. I know I love talking about mine.As for telling people when they've inspired you…I now have two stories where I did just that. The very last flash fiction I posted on my blog was inspired by two bloggy friends I met in England, and they loved it. The other was inspired by a family friend's painting. She asked to read it, and I've yet to hear her thoughts. So far so good, but I think people appreciate the immortality.

  12. OMG! Thanks for all the comments. I've decided that tomorrow I'm just going to ask him for the story. The camera will be safely tucked in my bag, just in case I get brave enough to ask for the picture. Funny, how this has me freaked. He's just this college kid that all the tweens follow around. Today a crowd of 8ish year old kids were showing him all their silly bands. Have I mentioned that the pool is really entertaining? There were these two 6 year olds teaching each other karate with a kick board. I thought my face was going to break from grinning at them. I managed not to laugh out loud because I didn't want to hurt their feelings, but it was hard! The acrobatics mixed with the sound effects were hilarious!Ok, hopefully, I'll have a report for you on Friday!

  13. 0-o My daddy has a tattoo like that on the back of his leg. A flaming eyeball. How strange.

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