Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Main Characters

  I find it oddly amusing that my blurry hand looks long and weird. (Maybe claw-like?)

Now on to the writing stuff. This is another post I put together on how I write. It's for Kristie Britt's blog. One of her suggestions was to discuss where your main characters come from, and so that's what I did. The short answer: me. They come from me.


My Main Characters

In a recent post I talk about the different manuscripts I’ve written. I’ve had a wide variety of main characters, from adult women to a twelve-year-old boy. The most interesting part about all of these very different people is that in some ways, they are all me.

Or, more accurately, a small piece of me. Maybe a me that I could have been if I’d been born in a different body and a different place. If I’d had more confidence or worse parents or changed any other set of circumstances that made me who I am rather than making me somebody else.

In order for you to be able to write an entire book about a person, you have to really understand that person. You have to understand their actions and reactions. You have to know how they speak and why they say the things they do. You have to identify with that person.

Or at least, I do. Just for example, when I was writing Eric (the twelve-year-old boy) I thought back to middle school and tried to remember what it was really like. I created a set of circumstances that helped shape Eric, and I thought about how I’d feel if I had those unfortunate circumstances shaping my life. I thought about what it means to be accepted by your peers when you’re a twelve-year-old boy and how that would affect the way I let the world see me.

Obviously, I was never an impoverished twelve-year-old boy whose older sister helped raise him. But I can imagine how I might have felt if I were Eric, and by putting myself in his place, I thought about how “I” (a.k.a. Eric) would react and speak and deal with the world I, as a writer, had thrown him into.

Maybe other writers do not feel this way at all, but by putting myself in my main character’s place in order to figure out how he or she would react and what (s)he’d say, I feel like that main character is sort of me. After all, those are my reactions and my speech. Even if I’m not actually that person, somewhere, on some level, I think I could be that person, even if I’d never actually allow myself to get there.

I hope that makes sense. It’s a sort of philosophical take on a main character’s personality. Maybe I don’t actually work like most other writers. But, in my opinion, if you can’t put yourself in your main character’s place, I’m not sure your main character is going to be believable.

But, who knows, maybe I just have a personality disorder I’m working through with my writing. ;)

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