1. Pook
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    Pook Member

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    "Dont put yourself in your writing"

    Discussion in 'Character Development' started by Pook, Dec 13, 2010.

    I heard this quote last week:

    "Dont put yourself in your writing"

    Is this writing 101 or is this just nonsense?

    [​IMG]
     
  2. Show
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    Show Contributing Member Contributor

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    I've heard both. lol Talk about conflict. xD
     
  3. SashaMerideth
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    SashaMerideth Contributing Member

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    Part of what we write stems from our imagination, and our ego. If we don't commit to our writing it will be flat and uninspiring. However if YOU are the protagonist then unless you lead a very interesting life, your story will be as boring as you are.
     
  4. PurpleCandle
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    PurpleCandle Senior Member

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    Even though there are other valid theory of creativity I tend to agree with Freud's Psychoanalytic thought that what we create is simply a manifestation of hidden desires or the need to work out a problem. The subconscious's way of working things out. Therefore, to not put ourselves in our writing would be impossible.
     
  5. SashaMerideth
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    SashaMerideth Contributing Member

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    Freud was wrong about a lot of things. He's great for sexual disorders, but for other things, there's better work done by other people. Sometimes a cigar is just a cigar.
     
  6. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    depends on how you do it... some can do it successfully, most can't...
     
  7. Noya Desherbanté
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    Noya Desherbanté Senior Member

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    Everything I wrote in the past was based on facets of myself that I kind of separated, and expanded upon. For example, one of my earliest efforts was about a group of young girls having adventures - each one of them was me, there was the bookish one, the childish one, the eco-friendly one, the sporty one, and the one that was just plain evil. :) I used myself as a template, not having many friends of my own age (hugs, anyone? :() to base my characters upon, and as I grew up they developed with me into their own personalities.

    There has to be some of me in each character - otherwise I wouldn't know how to write them, they'd be stilted and 2D. Write about what you know. :) Of course, if you're an enigma, and don't spend as much time navel-gazing as I do, then it becomes a little trickier...
     
  8. Elgaisma
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    Elgaisma Contributing Member Contributor

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    I write first person - completely inside the head of my characters. If I didn't put myself into it, it wouldn't work ...

    My best friend can't read it lol He says he knows I am bonkers doesn't want to actually read a book where he spends several hours right inside my head :)
     
  9. Tessie
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    Tessie Contributing Member Contributor

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    I think writing either way is acceptable. Don't authors always see themselves in at least one of their characters, whether the person is minor or major? I don't think this is something to fret about. A book I'm working on is centered on a teenage boy, but his best friend and his best friend's sister are modeled after my own personality. They are also human and flawed. I take example from myself and from my own friends sometimes.
     
  10. Islander
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    Islander Contributing Member Contributor

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    Well, it depends on how you mean.

    You shouldn't make yourself a character in your stories, especially not for the purpose of wish fullfillment.

    But you should use parts of yourself - your own feelings, experiences and personality traits - in your characters. This tends to happen by itself when characters come alive in your mind.
     
  11. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    And that is the actual definition of a "Mary Sue" character - author insertion as wish fulfilment.
     
  12. goldhawk
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    goldhawk Senior Member

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    I don't know about putting yourself in your writing but writing can take a lot out of you. After all, if it doesn't have a deep, emotional meaning for you, how can it have one for your readers?
     
  13. Tessie
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    Tessie Contributing Member Contributor

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    Yes, that is exactly how I believe it should be done. :)
     
  14. Donal
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    Donal Contributing Member

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    To be honest I this is a case of a quote being applied too literally. How can you write about what you know if you are not in your writing? If you have suffered tragedy, experienced life, been happy, been in love, travelled, grown up in an environment that inspires you by all means put all those parts on you on paper. But I would agree do not put you as a character in your work - it is hard to remain impartial towards any such character and they could look a bit too perfect.
     
  15. FrailBeauty
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    I do believe it's impossible to not put yourself in your writing at all. Everything you write about somehow relates to you. You will often find that no matter how you try to avoid it, you will find yourself basing characters on people you know in your real life, as well as writing about things you once wished would happen in your life. Even if you don't put yourself directly into your work in a very obvious way, it still has a lot of your presence in it.

    That quote really doesn't make much sense to me.
     
  16. write_star
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    write_star Member

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    I totally agree with this. I cannot tell you how many fanfiction stories I have read where a person simply puts themselves in the story. Example: Dean Winchester meets Sarah (insert last name here) and she goes on a hunt with them." Well it's fine and dandy to keep the writing like that to yourself, I don't recommend it for publishing purposes. I agree that we should put traits of ourselves in our books, and attempt to get inside our characters' heads a little bit... otherwise, writing would just be boring.
     
  17. Lothgar
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    Lothgar Contributing Member

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    Don't put me in your writing either...not unless you want to pay me royalties :)
     
  18. Newfable
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    Newfable Senior Member

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    I find this question weighs more heavily with poetry, than any other kind of creative work.

    People will grab a pen, put it to paper, and confess anything and everything that's going on with them at the moment. Part of theraputic writing, they get it down on paper and breathe a sigh of relief. Then they try to publish it, or send it to contests, or read it at readings, finding that the work fails miserably at every venue and opportunity, the reason being that the audience doesn't care so much about the writer, but what the writer has to say; in this case it's, "I have problems; please listen to them," which very few audiences are actually interested in.

    The rub is this: when you put "yourself" (define that however you want to) in any large degree into your work, it becomes harder and harder to refine the more you get attached to it. The further we can distance ourselves from our work, the easier it can be to get down to business and edit the darn thing.
     
  19. spklvr
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    spklvr Contributing Member Contributor

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    I often write short stories with myself in them, but I don't think I would ever try to publish any of them. They are far too personal. I think it helps me as a writer however, because knowing myself help me know my characters (if that makes sense). I also think it's fun to see me in stories, because I'm kind of cowardly and never really have any opinions about things, so I'm a bit unusual.
     
  20. Allegro Van Kiddo
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    Allegro Van Kiddo Contributing Member

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    I believe that everything you write is about you because all information is processed through your cognitive filter (belief system). So, author Fred could research and write a nonfiction about George Washington, and it is still about Fred because what he decided to include in the book, how he organized, and how he phrased the writing is all about Fred.

    There seems to be a bit of conceit in the idea that you can remove yourself from you creative process.
     
  21. R-e-n-n-a-t
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    I put parts of myself in my writing; I don't duplicate myself, but usually at least one character has a similar personality to mine. Because I write in first person, not using facets of my personality wouldn't turn out very well. Can you imagine a cage fighter (which I am not, by the way) trying to write from the viewpoint of a pacifist? It'd likely be disturbing, to say the least.
     
  22. TokyoVigilante
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    Someone turning themselves into a character it straight-up tacky. The writing is immediately unable to create a reality that I can buy into.

    But of course people should put elements of themselves into their storytelling; I'd be suspicious of a writer who didn't draw on personal experience to help flesh out their characters.
     
  23. J_Jammer
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    J_Jammer Banned

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    I base many of my characters on people I know. They are the foundation. I then expand upon them how I wish. It is awesome, especially if the person is a prick. I can make them as they are...then deflate them if I choose to at the end. Far more fun if it gets published and said people see their likeness.

    My main villain in my trilogy is based on no one...total creation out of need and upon making the story he was never intended on being the villain. It just panned out that way.

    My MC...he is similar to me in two aspects. Everything else I made him become because it was not me.

    There are no rules in writing. There are only suggestions. Every rule has been broken in one way or another and those that have done so creatively have profited from it.

    With each risk there is pain and if you're not willing to suffer the pain, don't take the risk.
     
  24. thesims
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    This is a funny coincidence because I stumbled across an interesting collections of rants by someone called Limyaael (just google) and she complains about writers who put non-obvious bits of themselves in their story/characters because they feel like they HAVE to.

    The rant is called "Putting Yourself in the Story (But Not Obviously)".

    If you don't feel like looking it up... she basically says that putting yourself in your writing is O.K. as long as it doesn't limit your creativity, and that one should really use personal experiences/traits as INSPIRATION. Limyaeel compares it to dumping whole slogs of research that has nothing to do with your story, just because you did the research. Putting yourself in your writing is unavoidable but yeah, don't add subtle references to your past and inside jokes for the heck of it.
     
  25. Agent Vatani
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    Agent Vatani Active Member

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    Well there are goods and bads.

    A lot of fame writers base a charcter off them self or friends/family. A lot of people say Bella (from twilight) the writer based her off herself.

    But if your have a big ego and boring the chacrter might just be crap.
    So it's a 50/50 thing.
     

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