I had a different entry planned for this week, but I stopped after about two paragraphs because it was boring. Granted, another round of "this is what I learned about writing this week" would have been better than another round of "this is why I'm doomed to failure", but really, most of my blog this year falls into one of those two categories.
To be more specific, the entry was going to be about the character work I'm doing for the story I'm plotting, and how it's turning out when I hammer out the basic plotline from start to finish and then fill in character details. This is not my usual plotting process, but it's going well, else this would be another downer of an entry. But thinking about the characters led my train of thought down another track:
Just how much of the characters we write comes directly from ourselves?
I never attempt to write myself into a story, and I don't think I ever would. Aside from a bunch of other issues, odds are good I wouldn't survive most of the stuff I put my characters through. Seriously, one of the characters I'm working on dies at the start of the second act, and if I was in this book, that would probably be me.
However, I did something different when working on development for the book's four main characters, and I didn't even realize it until I wrote up the profile for the fourth one. Every one of them started with a specific trait of my own, and I built them up from that, figuring out their backgrounds based on the world they live in, knowing where the story would take them and determining out how they would react. (None of them seem like they're going to run away with the plot, which I'm thankful for, but I might end up eating those words later.) I know I put a little of myself into everyone I write, but I've never done it so deliberately.
One has never felt like she fits in, no matter where she is. One feels that he never gets what he wants out of life. One worships his heroes more than he should. And one would rather hide away with her books than face the rest of the world.
Now that I've finished the writeups for all four of them, I find myself looking back at some of my writing and wondering just how much I've done this for all the characters I've worked on. I know there's always an element of wish fulfillment in writing; I think that's a lot of why we write, as it's not just to create the stories we want to see, but it's the chance to live in them for a little while. A lot of my characters are a lot more daring and clever than I'll ever be, and they not only get into but get out of more trouble than I could ever get away with.
And I do admit that there's a lot more of me in Shiloh than there should be, which is part of why getting nothing but rejections for BoLR hurts more than it should. >_<
I know this is nothing new or earth-shattering. but it's not often that I see writers really talking about this. As for the characters I'm still working on, I'm looking forward to seeing how they handle things when I write the fully fleshed-out plot and put them through those paces. I don't think they'll react like I would, no matter what pieces of me they carry in them.
Next week, IWSG: Starting Again, Again.