Can you base characters on yourself? Memorable characters?

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Doaa Wael
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Can you base characters on yourself? Memorable characters?

Post by Doaa Wael » 01 Oct 2017, 13:55

Some authors say it is not good to create a character that is almost you (in fiction), why do you think they say that? What do you think makes characters memorable and unique?
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Post by Brandi Noelle » 26 Oct 2017, 14:33

I would say that there is a little bit of myself in my characters, though not one is fully me. But, I think the more truthful answer is that my characters are often the me I wish to be living an adventure I would love to have.

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Post by Rebeccaej » 17 Nov 2017, 20:48

Nearly all characters are going to have *elements* of you in them. I mean, even if you try to write a villain who you're opposed to in every way--if you want them to have a convincing motive, you're going to write a motive that makes sense *to you.* If you want them to be horrific and alien, you're going to write a motive that horrifies *you* and that you think is senseless or unjustifiable. You can't help but include bits of yourself.

The problem people have is when it's really obvious that the author is living vicariously through a specific character, for fantasy fulfillment. "He'd just achieved the highest score possible in this specific video game, which is, of course, the most noble game in existence. The hottest girl in school wrapped her arm around his neck and kissed him. 'You're the most handsome boy I've ever seen,' she said. Then the school bully tried to push him. He broke three of the bully's ribs in one punch, because he was also a fifth-degree black belt."

That gets annoying really quickly.

I think some of the better advice I've seen for making a character memorable is to give them a serious flaw that ultimately causes them to mess up their own life or the plot. The reader should, at some point, be yelling at the character not to do something, while understanding exactly why the character is definitely going to do it.

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Post by KS Crooks » 18 Nov 2017, 15:13

The danger comes from having the character do what you would do in different situations rather than have them do what 'they' would do. A key aspect to writing good characters is having it feel like they are telling you their story, which is more difficult if you are thinking about yourself. What an author could do is take the Hitchcock approach, meaning blatantly place yourself as a very minor character in the story. This allows you to exist in your created world, yet not interfere with the story.

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Post by Archie Tewksbury » 21 Nov 2017, 00:13

when we base characters yourself, you will start writing with all the feeling since its you. If you are developing a character that feel cannot seen in your writing because you are developing something not imagining and producing it.

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Post by Mpruett-09 » 04 Dec 2017, 08:58

I know a piece of myself is present in all my main characters. Their feelings, emotions, sometimes their memories... but I feel that it makes my characters better in a way. If I tap into how I thought, or felt, in a situation when writing about it then I can more accurately put it into words.

That's not to say that basing a character solely on yourself is a good idea. Each character needs to have some unique aspects to be relatable. If all you do is base your character on yourself then you aren't tapping into your imagination and creating something new, you're just writing about yourself, and honestly, not many people want to read about how you lived your life unless it's clearly an autobiography.

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Post by scullen » 09 Dec 2017, 04:26

I definitely put a bit of myself into every character I write. I think it's a natural thing to do and something most write's are guilty of, especially when it comes to the protagonist in a story. You spend so long writing from this character's POV it just makes sense that elements of you slip into them, even if it's something as simple as their favorite candy bar being the same as yours. It also helps me connect with my characters, if I can relate to them in some small way. The trick is to balance it. Like Rebecca said, there are some authors that write themselves into the story and it becomes apparent very quickly. There's a certain danger there as well, I notice authors who make their characters basically themselves are less likely to let their characters go through the ringer the way us readers love to see them. No one wants to read a story where the main character is perfect, gets everything they want easily, and has no real hurdles to overcome. I'd say it's helpful to put a little bit of yourself into your characters, but they should never be recognizable as you. Give them flaws, make them do things you wouldn't do, give them occupations you'd never dream of having, that's what makes them unique. If everyone just wrote themselves into a story, we wouldn't have all the amazing literature we have.

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Post by RJWaugh » 29 Dec 2017, 02:47

I believe that the author should relate to their characters in one way or another. Having shared some of the same experiences can help bring more depth and feeling to the description or scene. I will more than likely use a lot of my personal experiences as a starting point and then allow my imagination to take over.

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Post by Vivianne Nat » 23 Mar 2018, 09:04

Most of the time i believe that writers put a bit of themselves in their characters. Their own self becomes the basis of things and from there they branch out. In my case, i use others as a basis and i incorporate my self, what would i want to feel or do.
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Post by Traxy » 23 Mar 2018, 12:41

I once created an online play-by-post roleplaying character who was meant to be my avatar, but she ended up being her very own person rather quickly, haha! I'm not sure I would have taken a hedgehog from a Transfiguration class and run away with it to "save it from animal testing". ;)

Like others have said, most characters have at least an element of you in them, and I agree with Rebeccaej - if you write the character as wish-fulfillment, it gets annoying.

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Post by Vlinstry » 26 Mar 2018, 06:37

I am in the middle of doing an online writing course and they say that there are four methods to writing characters. One of which is Autobiographical - meaning you draw on yourself and write about a version of you that either is the real you or the you that you want to be. Some authors don't use this method as they just don't like it and other swear by it. I tend to do it because, I feel, the character will be more realistic as I know that I am a real person, if that makes sense.

I feel its more personal preference. Whatever you are most comfortable with will come out best in your writing! :)

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Post by KRay93 » 26 Mar 2018, 10:11

Since you try to put yourself in the shoes of another person, I think it is inevitable to leave something of oneself when writing characters. Of the main ones I've written, I think they always have part of me, especially the protagonists, since I try to imagine myself in the situations they go through. Having said that, I believe that a true problem would arise if said character would end up as an exact mirror of oneself...

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Post by lucia_kizas » 26 Mar 2018, 11:15

I believe all of us somehow base our protagonists at least partly on who we are, who we would like to be, who we admire, or maybe who we would never dare to become in real life... The protagonist of a story I am writing is someone I can deeply relate to emotionally. This is probably why I chose to write her story in first person (I hope this is a correct way of saying it... If not, sorry, English is not my mother-tongue). :)

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Post by Helen_Combe » 26 Mar 2018, 11:35

Most of my characters are a mix of me along with my work colleagues and anybody I know. I would be timid about creating a character of a different race or very different lifestyle as I wouldn't know how to make them authentic.
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Post by SABRADLEY » 26 Mar 2018, 16:52

I think the risk is when characters aren't believable as themselves. I see no problem with characters having traits of the writer in them; no one has to ever even know.

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