If you’re an author you’ve probably joined the innumerable writing and writers’ sites and groups—hell it’s pretty much requisite these days. And on those groups are discussions about yes, that’s right, writing! One question someone asked today was a topic I’d been thinking about all last night. How much of yourself do you put into your characters was the question posed. I thought back over all of mine and could only pinpoint tiny little items that I used to try to give a bit of depth to a character such as a favorite perfume or flowers or some small (or large) self-criticism that lets their quirks come through and make them more real to readers.
But that’s pretty much where I draw the line consciously at least. I don’t see myself in my characters, I see myself seeing them. When a character pops into my head I see them—they’re complete people with their own personas, problems, and physicality. I’ve done posts on this subject before though in more general terms.
They look different than me physically from blondes with blue eyes to brunettes to redheads and strawberry blondes—both male and female—from extremely short and petite to tall, strong and powerful to thin and scrappy. (Okay, now that you know what I don’t look like…start the guessing game, lol.)
Yet that’s not all they differ from me. Most are strong personas whether they’re hopelessly drug addicted Isadora DayStar or stiff military soldier Khai Zafara or guilt ridden Homicide Detective Payce Halligan they have likes or dislikes, dress differently and surprise themselves with just how far they will go in most situations. They behave differently have different values and live in different places earthly or unearthly. They’re not afraid to shoot those BFG’s (Big F**king Gun a term used a lot in action filming) and blow away anyone they deem not worthy of life or a possible or valid threat.
As I said, when a character appears in my weird head, I see them, not me. I can get inside their head but they can’t get into mine—I hope. I see them acting and reacting in their own ways not mine. I see their history and why they do the things they do and I see how they react to emotion: love hate or both.
And sometimes I see them as I’d like to be. I’d love to be able to shoot that BFG and blow the ass of some alien attacker; hell sometimes I’d just like to be able to hold that damned BFG! I’d love to have the strength to get through hideously desperate situations and I’d like to think I have the strength to stand up for what’s right regardless of opposition. I’d love to be able to sacrifice myself for someone else without hesitation and without recompense. My characters have done these things and more and they surprise and encourage me to try and do the things they do even if it’s unorthodox.
This goes for the male characters too. I want them to be strong, powerful and I want them to finally realize what is truly important to them and those they love. I want them to overcome horrendous obstacles with humor and panache when they can and with dogged determination when they cannot. And no, they’re not based on men I know or have known. They’re their own men and as such make their own rules and hell be damned they stick by them. To get to someone they love, they’ll tear down buildings, shred warheads, rip out their own hearts if they have to in order to save that person. And they won’t blink once…unless they think they’re not in time. And then they do rip out their own hearts.
I also have male characters that are not perfect. Oh yeah, and a few who think they are perfect. Those latter are the ones I really love. They’re so much more difficult to write and so much more satisfying when I do.
And none of them are like me.