A case in point is a book that I have just finished "The Cat's Table" by Michael Ondaatje. As I was progressing through the story, I began to question if the story was at least semi-autobiographical due to the very honest and believable words and actions of the protagonist and the secondary characters. Clearly, I am not the only one who has questioned this with this particular book, as in the afterword, the author states that the work and the characters were entirely fictional.
I read a blog post today on this issue of character believability. The author was writing a story that was based on actual individuals in his life and as the author, he had to make the conscious decision to remove an actual characteristic of one of the characters as he felt that it would render the character unbelievable in the reader's mind which would effectively bring the reader "outside" of the story. As I read this account by the author, it made me question what a difficult dilemma that must have been for the author as he had to choose between satisfying his readers with a portrayal of his characters that would be accepted by the reader, versus what I would assume to be his original objective to tell a story from his past. It must not have been an easy decision and I'm not sure how I would react - or would react - in a similar circumstance. I'd like to think that I would portray a character such as this, as authentically and honestly as possible, even with the possible risk of rendering the character to be unbelievable. I suppose that to a certain extent, it makes me wonder to what extent does a writer create a story for himself versus for his readers.