A new month means a new topic for the traveling blog! This month, Lydia poses the question:
What part of yourself (personality, physical characteristic, life in general) have you put into a main character? And why did you put it in there?
This is a fantastic question! For sure, writing has become such a personal process for me that I can’t help but spill into some of my characters. My first novel was the most obvious–the main character was a psychiatrist in her 30’s. (The difference? She had a 600 year old spirit chasing her and, as far as I can tell, I don’t. Yay!)
Once I got that out of my system, I think details of my “self” became more subtle. Now, instead of physical characteristics, hobbies, or day jobs, my characters reflect my thought processes. In other words, they are likely to approach situations like I do, they solve problems like I do, and they have a childish, pessimistic sense of humor like I do. (Just kidding.) (No I’m not.) (Yes I am.) (No…aww, never mind.)
The most interesting thing I’ve noticed in my writerly journey is that my characters seem to react to the world around them. They kind of just go along from scene to scene, managing whatever situation is in front of them, without really connecting it to any overarching theme.
Well, dang it all, ain’t that how I approach life? Don’t worry, I won’t go off into some long-winded philosophical rant, but suffice it to say, I’m the type who handles one day at a time. Hell, I sometimes manage one hour at a time. So is it any surprise my characters tend to do the same?
The problem with this is striking–my characters’ moment to moment approach to their lives makes them seem ineffectual and passive. Shoot! NOT what I wanted.
So, my task–should I figure out how to do it–is to make my characters effect their worlds rather than let their worlds effect them. It’s easier said than done, but I’m working on it.
As an aside, I would like to say I’m not some limp sock that gets kicked around the bedroom floor. I do develop goals and I do reach them. It just seems my go with the flow attitude seeps into my writing.
Then again, I am a pantster, so everything I wrote about could be a load of bollix.
So, if this was a complete let down, check out Lydia’s post next week! She’s sure to have something awesome, inspiring, and funny to say!
HA! I like this post – and the question. You guys always tackle GREAT questions…
I always start offwith some of me in the characters (never on purpose, mind you) – but in the editting process I make sure my mc is all authentically her (or him).
I think my personality traits tend to come into play with female characters. However, they definitely have their own mix of stubborn will and strengths without me reciting rote for rote how they react.
The closest I’ve come to instilling me entirely into a character is writing a deaf protagonist. I needed to delve into my own experience, in order to make her reality more believable. (Hugs)Indigo
I am still in rewrites for my first MS and my heroine definitely has some of me in her. Why? First time out who do you know the best, yourself. Right?
Now, she has extremes to her personality. She has the dream job I wanted as a kid, award winning journalist. She can sing and does in a band for fun, I can’t carry a tune but I won’t deny wishing I could rock out like P!nk.
And writing is so personal, there is always a little bit of us in our characters. For me the first time out it just made more sense to write someone I knew really well, someone like me.
LOVE this. Yep. I’ve picked a quirk and magnified it. Like, thrown it into OCD status for one of my characters. That was fun. Great post!!
This is definitely something I struggle with. Seriously, I could teach a class called Cloning 101.
Now, I’m starting to get the hang of creating characters that have few similarities to me. And when I say few, I mean f-e-w. No more clones allowed 🙂
Great post! And best of luck with your clones!
I mean… characters…
GREAT comments!!! Thanks, everyone, for sharing your thoughts! 😀
“The difference? She had a 600 year old spirit chasing her and, as far as I can tell, I don’t. Yay!”
Hehe good for you! 🙂
I put a lot from myself into my characters- my stories always have at least one lawyer character in them LOL!
I think I use myself as the point of origin, like a starting point to build a character and then let him/her become his/her own character.
Bits and pieces of me are spread throughout. I think. I’m not me when I’m writing though, if that makes sense. I do know my voice does seep through to each and every character though. 🙂
How fascinating! I can see that you’re a go-with-the-flow person, I never thought it was in your writing, so that’s pretty interesting!
Well, they do say to write what you know… and it sounds like you have!
I think the more you write, the more you are able to extract “yourself” from your lead character–but it’s inevitable that some of you will seep in.
The biggest trait my MC has of mine, which I thought fit him since he’s suppose to have been alive for thousands of years and he happens to be the angel of death, is guarding himself. He doesn’t open up to others and tries to disconnect himself from the world as much as possible.
For the people who say that a part of them isn’t in their characters anymore, I wonder if that is entirely true. Even though a character may have taken on it’s own persona, it could never have been created without you.
I think what happens is the more abstract our character becomes and the more we build from what we know, the less we recognize, but underneath all the layers, we are always the starting point, whether we realize it or not.
Other than her fashion sense (boots rock), I tried to keep my personality out of my MC. Mostly because I think I would make a very boring character.