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You = Character?

Discussion in 'Writing Discussions' started by JazzTD, Jan 4, 2012.

  1. JazzTD

    JazzTD Dreamer

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    I've noticed that many of the characters in books I've read are a direct visualization of the author in their desired setting. Do many of you do this? Do you think it's more realistic or less professional?

    Personally I enjoy a character that isn't me, it's much more fun than just manipulating myself. But what do you think? :confused:
     
  2. Telcontar

    Telcontar Staff Moderator

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    Less professional, definitely. This is known as self-insertion, and is in fact one of the quintessential signs of an inexperienced author. They are using their writing more as fantasy-fulfillment than anything else. It's seen in a lot in bad fan fiction - see the article for 'Mary Sue' on wikipedia. I did this in my early days, just like most authors. No more.

    Every one of my characters has a least a little of me in them, even the most heinous, love-to-hate-them characters. At least, so I believe. That doesn't mean that any of them are supposed to be me. I can live vicariously through my writing without making it obvious. :)
     
  3. I did some of this when I was much younger, but now, no. The four POV characters in my WIP are two men and two women; the men are 20 and 26 years old, and neither one is anything like me (except one of them is kinda sarcastic). Other than that, they're not really very similar.

    There's nothing wrong with this, exactly, except that it correlates highly with bad writing, so if people think you're just writing yourself as a superhero/wizard/prince, they might disdain it.
     
  4. JazzTD

    JazzTD Dreamer

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    Very valid points! Thank you. :)

    That actually explains a lot of my earlier writing. ^^;
     
  5. Lepton

    Lepton Dreamer

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    I can't say that it is unprofessional, probably not a road I would want to go down, but unprofessional is a bit strong of a word. I think that introducing a character that reflects the author can easily get out of hand, especially in a fantasy setting, not saying that if done correctly, it can go well. I dislike it when an author makes one of the characters in the book exactly as themselves, it seems to delete a lot of creativity that could be there. That's just my opinion, though.
     
  6. The only time I put my self in would be as a cameo character. I mostly do that for kicks and giggles though.
     
  7. writingcontest

    writingcontest Acolyte

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    I've sort of done this. Instead of doing it as a direct characterization of myself, I've done it as a more daydreamed version of myself. I resemble the character, but I'm not the character. I've found character development a lot easier when you can combine character traits of yourself or those around you with your story's characters.

    I'd also like to say that I don't think there's anything inherently wrong with this, but better stories probably do this less often.
     
  8. ThinkerX

    ThinkerX Myth Weaver

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    Stephen King got away with this - sort of - in his 'Gunslinger' / 'Dark Tower' series. But...he's Stephen King.

    As was pointed out, all characters have at least a bit of their creator in them.

    For myself, I do draw on my own past experiences and reactions when crafting a scene: 'what would it feel like to do this?' 'is this sequence of events phausible to *me*?' 'this is what I would do - but, is it what this character would do?'
     
  9. mythique890

    mythique890 Sage

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    My MC in my first complete novel started out sort of based on me. By the time I finished, I realized she was weak and uninteresting in contrast to characters I'd made up or based strongly on people I know. For me it didn't work out because I guess I'm too close to myself to see what makes me interesting (if I am) and exploit it.

    Speaking of author fantasies, I wasn't surprised when I looked at the back cover of Twilight and saw that Stephanie Meyer was an older, rounder version of Bella.
     
  10. eternaldream24

    eternaldream24 Scribe

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    My main character is the complete opposite of me. I've never actually considered making a character like myself. If I wanted to write about myself I'd write a memoir. I do want to ask something about the mary sue thing. My intention with my mc is for her to have a fairly happy life, but through the course of the story, have that happiness ripped from her. If she has a normal happy life in the beginning of the story is she considered a mary sue? I will say, by the end of the first chapter her happy life isn't so happy anymore, and it's going to get worse. Is there something wrong with having a mc who has a happy life?
     
  11. sashamerideth

    sashamerideth Maester

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    I try to think about what I would do in the situations I put my charaters in. Then I have them do something different.
     
  12. When I started out on my book I had no intention of making the protag be me. However, as I went along the guy really has become something of a reflection of me in terms of traits (quiet, shy, cautious, bit of a coward) but certainly not in any kind of desired situation. He also has traits which I don't have, good looks, a sword, and eventually a resignation to kill. Maybe I just envisioned the story by thinking about how I would react in those situations, or maybe it comes from wanting to identify with the character.
     
  13. Androxine Vortex

    Androxine Vortex Archmage

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    It depends really. I mean if the book is fantastic well then does it matter? If not, I don't think you could blame it on that sole fact. Some books are really good and they even include the author in it (The Divine Comedy)

    When I write I try and give my characters realistic emotions or personalities. Maybe this particular character is "afraid" then I would think of someone I personally know who is most like that emotion or to the charcter and try and think of how they would react to the situation. I am not saying I base ALL my characters off of real people, to me, that would be stupid. But at times I think it is fine. Make sure the character IS THAT character and NOT someone else, because you're just portraying them which then limits the possibilites of creative ideas you could use.
    Just my thoughts.
     
  14. Xanados

    Xanados Maester

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    Yes, I think that it's a natural thing. If you listen to a lot of author interviews they will tell you that they are projecting themselves through their characters. R.A. Salvatore said a similar thing about his book Transitions.
     
  15. TWErvin2

    TWErvin2 Auror

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    My characters are not me, although in some ways I'd like to be a bit like them--well not all of them ;)

    Sure, there is a reflection, even a hazy one of us in some characters. Our experiences and outlook on life definately influence our writing, or so I believe. But I don't see myself being any of my characters.
     
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