You Look Familiar: Putting Yourself in Your Characters


So everyone's heard the often repeated adage "write what you know."  Most of the time this is referring to writing about topics and settings you're familiar with.  You're a lawyer, so you write a story about a lawyer.  Or, you grew up in the Florida Keys so you write a story that takes place there.  But also, this can mean your characters.


I know I use inspiration from family, friends, and random people I've met in my life to create characters.  I'm sure most of our relatives quake in fear that they are going to pop up in one of our books.  But what about that main character?  My guess is that more often than not, that character has a lot of similarities to YOU, the author. Whether it's done on purpose or just naturally, that MC tends to take on a lot of the author's characteristics.

Don't believe me?  Go make the rounds (if you didn't yesterday) and read some of the excerpts from the Love at First Sight blogfest.  Here's my excerpt if you're interested.

If you've been blogging a while and "know" those particular bloggers personalities, many times you can see those things pop up in their excerpts.  Part of it is author voice.  But the other is that we're writing what we know best--ourselves.

There's many a time I read a book and think to myself--me and this author would get along.  Because I get a feel for the person writing the book through their characters and their writing voice.

But you have to be careful with this.  If your MC in each book is too much like you, then you're left with multiple books that have essentially the same character in them.  Which is okay if you're writing a series, but not so much otherwise.

So think through your MCs and try to keep an eye out for things that keep popping up.  Are all your MCs blonde?  Geeks?  Artistic?  Writers?  Have absent fathers?  Turn to chocolate when stressed?  Whatever.

For instance, I have trouble writing short heroines.  I'm tall (5'9") and have a hard time imagining what it must be like to be "cute and petite."  It's a foreign concept to me.  But I can't make all my MCs tall, it's not realistic.  So that's something I have to work on.

And that doesn't mean you can't put aspects of yourself in each of your characters, but just make sure they aren't the same aspects all the time.

So how much of yourself do you put into your characters?  Do you see themes repeating from one work to the next--which ones?  Have you ever read a book and thought you'd get along with the author?


**Today's Theme Song**
"All of Me" - Buckcherry
(player in sidebar--go ahead, take a listen)