The article takes root in the idea of the hidden ethical conditions that we, as writers, found ourselves bound to. I thought, sure ethics are pretty straight forward when writing, right? Uh no. Malcolm Knox kindly woke me up to that!
For example, when Knox's first novel Summerland was accepted for publication, he immediately sent a copy of his manuscript to a friend of his that had featured predominantly as the main character. His friend was happy for it to be published, as both he, and Knox, knew when the character began and ended. Unfortunately, Knox and his buddy didn't forsee the problems that would be cause by other people. There are three types of people who will read your book;
- Those that know you, and know when the character begins and ends and that's fine.
- Those that don't know you, and never will, so that's fine.
- Then there are those that know of you, or know your friend a little, that see the fiction writing as a glimpse at truth.
This last group of people are the ones that will cause problem. I personally, had not even considered this consequence of publishing a novel, but I suppose it would be inevitable that those around you, that knew you wrote the book would assume that several of the characters are based on real people. They may be, to an extent, but it's the 'non-writerly' way of understanding that characters take on their own qualities and characteristics that make them totally independent of the original inspiring person.
Phew... lots to think about anyway :)