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How much is too much real life inspiration

So I find that in the process of writing The Swordsinger (WIP) I'm slowly beginning to integrate similar problems that I'm facing in real life or metaphors of those problems into my writing process. I like this because it makes me feel connected to my MC but I don't know how much is too much. At its core, the story is more of the MC's internal journey to understand what it means to struggle for the sake of your own life with the backdrop of "Fighting the power-hungry emperor". The MC is 18 and I plan to sort of make the story a hyperbolic metaphor of my teen years (of course with a fantasy coat of paint) If anyone is familiar with evangelion you'll get what I mean except think of it as a little lighter than that. So I'd like to know what you guys think of this or if you yourselves have done something similar

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Velka

Sage
I'm not exactly sure what you're asking here, but I'll take a stab at it. Feel free to tell me I've completely missed the mark.

I tend to keep myself out of my work. My first-world problems aren't great fantasy fodder, and ugh, I write for many reasons, escapism being one of them. I'd much rather figure out how my MC is going to defeat the mountain troll blocking her way to treasure than figure out how to get my passive-aggressive boss off my back and get out of going to a conference I have no interest in attending.

That being said, I suppose every writer brings personal experiences into their work: the grey and suffocating weight of loss when someone close to you died, the frustration and fear of being broke and rent is due, the floaty rose-tinted joy of being in love, the desire for irresponsible revenge against a cheating lover, the burning bright glow of too much wine and laughter with a friend.

So while I may bring that kind of personal experience into my work, I never write myself as, or in, my MC, if that's what you're asking. Too much baggage and I'm boring.
 
I'm not exactly sure what you're asking here, but I'll take a stab at it. Feel free to tell me I've completely missed the mark.

I tend to keep myself out of my work. My first-world problems aren't great fantasy fodder, and ugh, I write for many reasons, escapism being one of them. I'd much rather figure out how my MC is going to defeat the mountain troll blocking her way to treasure than figure out how to get my passive-aggressive boss off my back and get out of going to a conference I have no interest in attending.

That being said, I suppose every writer brings personal experiences into their work: the grey and suffocating weight of loss when someone close to you died, the frustration and fear of being broke and rent is due, the floaty rose-tinted joy of being in love, the desire for irresponsible revenge against a cheating lover, the burning bright glow of too much wine and laughter with a friend.

So while I may bring that kind of personal experience into my work, I never write myself as, or in, my MC, if that's what you're asking. Too much baggage and I'm boring.
Something along those lines. The goal is not to make the protagonist a carbon copy of myself but sort of a different perspective of myself. In the sense of exploring other ways in which I could approach situations.

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Russ

Istar
If your story is compelling and interesting written this way feel free to make it as personal as you like.

I know one consistent NYT best selling authors whose first dozen books or more are really reflections and meditations on his own challenging childhood, and in that period he made a significant mark on his genre and made a very good income.

There are many routes up the mountain, and if this one works for you, go for it. I don't think there is anything inherently wrong in writing very personal fiction.
 
Russ has the right of this, I think. So long as the story is compelling, there is no limit. Trouble is, most people's lives aren't compelling enough for fiction, and it might just make it harder to judge your own work than it already is. The written word is pretty personal to begin with, make it pseudo-autobiographical, and you might make emotional connections that aren't there for the cold reader, or who knows what other kinds of omissions or unnecessary inclusions.

Don't fear it, just keep an eye on it, and be prepared to cut something very personal if it doesn't work.
 
Trouble is, most people's lives aren't compelling enough for fiction

This is one thing that actually troubles me greatly sometimes. It just seems to throw a great negativity over everyday life when you consider how average people in average lives are deemed uninteresting; what's that say about us?

To the OP:

On the topic at hand...I think that using personal experiences to give flavor to a story can be very good. There is the old adage, write what you know. I think these things might work best when they inform minor things within a story, everything from interactions with a pet to the enjoyment of a particularly well cooked meal to the sort of dating foibles experienced at a young age.

I had an odd experience of reading a high school friend's published sci-fi novel many years after school and after we'd grown apart. I recognized how thoroughly I recognized him in the MC. It wasn't a pleasant experience and I couldn't finish reading the book. The problem was that he carried his own flaws, his own limited POV into the novel–the type where myopia and idiosyncratic blind spots highlighted particular obsessions and limited ways of interacting in the world. Now, if I'd never known him in the first place, this might not have bothered me so much.

I also love allegory, in theory, and have contemplated writing a fantasy novel that is an allegory of our own world. But I often enough have found myself cringing when I experienced the allegories others have written–and so have avoided making the attempt. So far. This may be off-topic, but I wonder if putting oneself into a novel is simply another kind of allegory. The problem that might arise if personal experience is followed too closely when shaping overall plot (rather than for flavoring things) is discovering that the plot points of one's personal life don't match up evenly with the plot points of the story you are trying to tell, creating an unevenness to the plot of your story.
 
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This is one thing that actually troubles me greatly sometimes. It just seems to throw a great negativity over everyday life when you consider how average people in average lives are deemed uninteresting; what's that say about us?

To the OP:

On the topic at hand...I think that using personal experiences to give flavor to a story can be very good. There is the old adage, write what you know. I think these things might work best when they inform minor things within a story, everything from interactions with a pet to the enjoyment of a particularly well cooked meal to the sort of dating foibles experienced at a young age.

I had an odd experience of reading a high school friend's published sci-fi novel many years after school and after we'd grown apart. I recognized how thoroughly I recognized him in the MC. It wasn't a pleasant experience and I couldn't finish reading the book. The problem was that he carried his own flaws, his own limited POV into the novel–the type where myopia and idiosyncratic blind spots highlighted particular obsessions and limited ways of interacting in the world. Now, if I'd never known him in the first place, this might not have bothered me so much.

I also love allegory, in theory, and have contemplated writing a fantasy novel that is an allegory of our own world. But I often enough have found myself cringing when I experienced the allegories others have written–and so have avoided making the attempt. So far. This may be off-topic, but I wonder if putting oneself into a novel is simply another kind of allegory. The problem that might arise if personal experience is followed too closely when shaping overall plot (rather than for flavoring things) is discovering that the plot points of one's personal life don't match up evenly with the plot points of the story you are trying to tell, creating an unevenness to the plot of your story.
In my case, the story's real life inspiration will be focused more on the subplots and final reveal. The main plots will be high fantasy fair, serving as a backdrop to the MC's emotional turmoil

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Hollywood takes liberties with supposedly "true stories" in order to spice them up. There's no reason you can't do the same with your writing.
 
Hi,

I think it's very hardfor a writer not to put somethingof himself in his characters. I'm sure I do. And I'm sure it comes across mostly in two ways. First in how my MC handles situations. I'm a smart guy in my own estimation, and I like my MC to solve a problem with brains as much as brawn or magic etc. Second in his world view. I on't have a problem with this, but I do worry that my characters from various books might have a certain sameness to them. This has always been one of my criticisms of Dean R Koontz's works though I still love them.

To get around that I sometimes write a character whose life experience has been vastly different to mine. So for example in Banshee Hunt I created my MC as a bitter cop whose entire life had been stolen from him by his little brother who had the power to compel people to do his bidding. So he'd lost his wife, family, career, money etc and most important of all learned to distrust anyone with magic. Then in every situation he faced I went back to basics. I knew what the issue was. What I would do and think about it. But then I tried to imagine myself as the MC, accept his bitterness and supicion and then re-ask the question - how woul I deal with it then? The answer was often different enough that I think the MC doesn't have a lot of resemblance to me at all.

Cheers, Greg.
 
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