1. katica
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    katica Senior Member

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    Identifying with your Main Character

    Discussion in 'Character Development' started by katica, Apr 29, 2011.

    In the current novel you are working on . . .

    How similar is the main character to you (personality or looks wise)? Do they go through similar struggles that you have gone through?

    And has anyone wrote a main character that's completely opposite of them?

    I'm just curious because I was reading a book recently where the main character is obviously based large on the author. (She has distinctive curly hair, for instance, and the character is constantly talking about her own distinctive curly hair.)

    And I also realize I often write main characters who are quiet and a bit socially awkward with an inner strength that nobody expects to be there because that's basically who I am. And I often make them have black hair and pale skin just like I do.
     
  2. Youniquee
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    Youniquee (◡‿◡✿) Contributor

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    I have Alexis, who is kinda of like me, but her flaws are more emphasised but she goes through one of the struggles I'm going through at moment, but solves them unlike I did. In terms of appearance, were complete opposites xD
    Anieli on the other hand is completely the opposite me. He's a guy and he's honest, spiteful, a loner, judgemental and everything I'm really not.
     
  3. spklvr
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    spklvr Contributing Member Contributor

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    I've created one character based on my past self. Not in appearance. She is long and blonde and I'm a tiny brunette. The reason she is long and blonde is because Taylor Swift happened to be on TV while I was creating her, and I figured, fine, she'll look like Taylor Swift. I don't even like Taylor Swift. Sorry. Ranting.

    Anyway, this character was based on my past self. Me in middle school. Where I didn't have that many friends and felt awkward, yet I looked down on everyone. I felt every single person in my class were idiots that should all just go die, including the few friends I had. When I started high school I didn't know anyone but this one girl I hated from my old class, and she sat down next to me and we became best friends...

    After that I really began growing and became more social and secure about myself. Then I kind of started to analyze my old self, and made me into a character. When I found that old analysis again, I figured it would make for an interesting character and gave her a make-over.
     
  4. astrostu
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    astrostu Member

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    In a novel I've taken a break from, there are two main characters. One is me, one is my brother. But everything is over-emphasized - the faults, mannerisms, coping mechanisms, obsessions, etc.
     
  5. TheSpiderJoe
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    TheSpiderJoe Senior Member

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    The main character in this series I've started is currently nothing like me as far as personality is concerned. Looks, on the other hand, was modeled after my appearance and stature since all of my sketches tended to lean that way.

    I wrote some other stories using my friends and family as the basis for some characters but never something using my specific personality in any way. I'm not sure why. I guess because it would feel more like a blog than a novel.
     
  6. VM80
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    VM80 Contributing Member Contributor

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    Interesting question.

    I think personality-wise, there are elements of 'me' in Alec. He is analytical, has got strong opinions, especially about politics, and is trying to do the best by his family and friends. He doesn't let people in easily and is a realist when it comes to romance, although he would love to meet someone genuine. (He does, lucky sod!)

    He also has a stubborn side and over-analyses things. I can identify with this because I was (and in a way still am) like that.

    However he takes it to extremes. There's a side to him that's a bit too unpredictable and not always likeable. He doesn't listen to advice and goes it alone, and that causes many of his problems... So he acts in ways I don't think I would. That's what drives the story forward.
     
  7. Yoshiko
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    Yoshiko Contributing Member Contributor

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    The novel I'm currently writing I've nothing in common with the main character except eye colour.

    In the novel I'm planning (where the MC is the love interest in the other novel) the MC and I have a few similarities: we both have the same hair colour, love strawberries and enjoy working out... and we both hook-up with people when we're already involved with others (the difference being my partner actually knows). :rolleyes:
     
  8. Ophiucha
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    Ophiucha Member

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    Theodore doesn't look much like me - twice my age, male, redhead - but his personality, or at least his interests, aren't particularly different. The focus of them is different, the extent, and the application differs, but if you were just bullet point listing personality traits, we'd probably have a fair bit of crossover.
     
  9. Tesoro
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    Tesoro Contributing Member Contributor

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    I usually create characters that are totally different to me when it comes to looks and life, but Im aware that they tend to react to problems the same way I do or at least have some parts of the upbringing/background in common with me which has somehow influenced on the way they act. but I also try to give them totally different lifes and experiences from mine, because 1.otherwise my stories would be awfully repetitive and 2. otherwise I wouldnt get the possibility to get into the shoes of someone else and trying to figure out what they would have done in certain situations, which is one of the things i like about writing, the possibility to pretend im someone else for a while.
     
  10. The Soul Man
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    The Soul Man Member

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    When I write, I tend to try and avoid physical and personality similarities to avoid creating Mary Sue characters. I tend to try and create more interesting and creative physiological dynamics and development cycles when creating characters. Outward appearance are more of an afterthought, however still an important element.
     
  11. Melzaar the Almighty
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    Melzaar the Almighty Contributing Member Contributor

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    Ah ha ha, bad time to ask - I just started work again on the series of books which feature almost all my Mary Sue characters in one go. One of them is not only the silly, clumsy, and awkward person as me, but has my Mommy Sue as her parent. :p Everyone who's read the stories loves her mum, and that's because I just wrote my own but turned her into a hippie. :p

    I don't always do that, though. It's silly teenage fantasy and writing a bunch of teenage girls is hard enough (she says, as someone who was very recently a teenage girl) without basing them heavily on real life experiences. I'd develop them more as characters if all the development wasn't going to come in the form of fairies, demons and minor gods. As it is, it's better to write characters I know very well (because they are me and bits of my besties) and just see what happens to them, since I'm not concentrating too hard on amazing literary-ness, and the later development, since it's a series, will be so abstracted from their original situation it'll be hard to see them in the same light any more.

    Anyways, normally I'm quite careful since my characters often can be quite silly/share my sense of humour, since I want to make jokes and so they appear in the novel no matter what the characters are like, that I draw very clear personality boundaries and aside from this series I'm working on now, no character is allowed to be mad as I am.


    (Yes I know it's cliché and annoying for someone on the internet to claim 'mad' as their primary characteristic, but I really am pretty loopy in social situations, and I think it's justified that I can have a free pass to be what all the wannabe kids who say they're 'pretty random' aspire to be. I am their god! Mwa ha :D)
     
  12. Tesoro
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    Tesoro Contributing Member Contributor

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    I think that what a writer has to beware of is making the main characters of each and every one of her stories resembling herself, not that one character does. It's when all of your MC looks, acts and talks like you that you have a problem. And that is something I have seen a lot in swedish writers. You get quite an idea of what the author is like if she can create nothing but the same personality over and over again...
     
  13. Jigen
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    Jigen Member

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    So far none of my main characters are very much like myself. The challenges they face are similar to those which we all face.

    Lately I've been spending time trying to think of ways I can really separate the characters from myself. I've been toying with the idea that since everyone (in real life) builds their own idea of the world in their heads, how can I build a world inside these characters' heads that is very unlike my own. That especially seems to be the key to making characters that are not perfect and are unlike yourself.
     
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  14. Vacuum Eater
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    Vacuum Eater Senior Member

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    This reminds me - after viewing some photos of Margaret Mitchell, it's remarkable just how much she fits the description of her character Scarlett O'Hara from Gone with the Wind, from the pointy chin and square jaw to the dark hair and tilted, light eyes (possibly green like Scarlett's but I can't tell from the black & white photos of Margaret).

    The science fiction novelist Timothy Zahn strongly resembles one of his recurring characters, Talon Karrde, from his Star Wars novels - greying dark hair, mustache + goatee, and a very confident expression.

    Stephanie Meyer fits her description of Bella from the Twilight series - heart-shaped face, brown eyes, brown hair.

    As for non-physical similarities between characters and their authors . . . JK Rowling has said that Hermione Granger from the Harry Potter books is a caricature of herself as a child.
     
  15. Kio
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    Kio Contributing Member

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    I tend to avoid them looking like me by either picking a different race or a different gender. Personality-wise, I just take a bunch of characteristics that I can think of and shove them into that character. If it resembles me in any way, I make sure to change it ASAP.

    Completely the opposite? Not necessarily. They are very different, yes, I make sure of that, but I've never gone far enough to actually make them entirely different from me. The reason for this is that, if you're going to live in a certain setting, you're going to adapt a certain behaviour. Most of my characters tend to be in the city and, since I live in the city, there will be similarities in political mindset and social situations. However, that's as far as I let myself go.

    The whole socially awkward with inner strength thing is usually good for multiple books because it's a common, accepted theme in many forms of media. However, if all your MCs are gonna have black hair and pale skin, then we might want to switch it up a bit. Give your character a tan with brown hair or something.

    But, for the sake of variety, try and write something unfamiliar. It's fun and it makes writing a little more exciting.
     
  16. Velox
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    Velox Senior Member

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    One of my characters is pretty close to me personality- and looks-wise, but he hasn't gone through similar struggles that I've gone through [quite different, in fact]. He is also much cooler and better than me at everything. =P

    Completely opposite...I don't think so. Maybe, but I can't really recall. A lot of my characters are very different from me, and a lot are different but have certain traits similar to mine, but I'm not sure if any have been exact opposites. That would actually be pretty interesting, though. I think I'll try that sometime [thanks for the new story idea, lol].
     
  17. Gothic Vampire Queen
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    Gothic Vampire Queen Member

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    Scarlet Dawson and I have a lot in common and yet at the same time, we don't.

    For instance,

    Scarlet likes Earl Grey Tea
    I don't.

    Scarlet talks a lot.
    I do but when I am spoken to or when I have something to say.

    Scarlet dances.
    I don't know how.

    Scarlet likes to be where there are a lot of people.
    I don't. I am more one-to-one.

    Scarlet likes spiders.
    I don't. Real ones freak me out.
     
  18. Drusilla
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    Drusilla Active Member

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    I can not say Minty is a clone of me. She does not look anything like me (not that I have noticed). I am light olive and she is reddish pale. I have brown eyes and full lips, while Minty has round blue eyes and thin lips. Her face is longer than mine and she has got 100% straight hair (while mine is a more wavy).

    I am 22 years old and she is 14 years old. We have gone through some of the same problems, but we have different ways of solving them. Minty can remind a little bit of me when I was 14 in the way she views the world, but our situations are different. I had problems at home when I was 14, and Minty has problems at home. But our problems are different.

    Minty is a lot braver than I was when I was 14, but her bravery is sometimes well hidden. In some ways, she is a real coward.

    She is more spontanous than me. She likes to hop to things while I like to plan everything ahead, even though I am a bad planner.

    Minty and I have some of the same flaws, and some flaws that are different from each other. We are both very untidy, ill tempered and rebellious to societal norms.
    Minty is acting too much without thinking, while I tend to think too much before I act.

    Minty does not mind being in crowds, while I hate being in crowds. Minty has 3 best friends (and she prefers to spend time with all of them together), while I prefer being with just 1 person at a time.

    We have different ways of dressing too. I dress gothic while Minty is more....... colourful.




    I just have to say it........... I hate writing about characters who are very similar to me. I think it is much easier and funnier to write about characters that I could not be friends with and that are vastly different from me. It does not matter if we are similar in some morals or opinions, but as a whole, I prefer my characters to be of the undiscovered kind (those I could never befriend through real life).
     
  19. EdFromNY
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    EdFromNY Hope to improve with age Supporter Contributor

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    Hmmm...okay, five novels (four complete, one in progress). Let me take them one at a time.

    In the first, the MC is Kate McNeil, later Kate Mancuso. Kate is one of two MC's I've written who are female, so obviously, no physical resemblance to me. Kate has red hair and so bears something of a resemblance to my mother, but that was unintentional. She is probably the kind of person I would have aspired to be had I been born a female in 1920. Her husband, Joe, is the strong, silent type; joined the Marines in 1938 to escape the effects of the Depression and later fought at Guadalcanal, Peleliu and Okinawa. Definitely not modeled after me.

    Second novel: MC is Fr. Joseph Lynch, son of a man who made his fortune in real estate, from whom he has been estranged since taking Holy Orders. He is assigned to a dirt-poor parish whose parishioners are mostly illegal immigrants. Obviously, not me although some aspects of his character are probably mine seeping through.

    Third novel: MC is Jack Collins, a political columnist for a New York newspaper who played soccer in high school. Jack is probably the only one of my MCs who is similar to me in certain respects, although I was anything but athletic when I was in my teens. His love for writing started at the same time in his life that mine did in mine, and, like me, he was an editor for his high school newspaper. Also like me, he fell immediately in love with the younger sister of a good friend, but unlike me, he pursued the relationship (whereas I was too uncomfortable to do so). And, unlike me, he admitted early on that he wanted to be a writer and openly pursued that goal. So, Jack isn't me so much as what I might have been.

    Fourth novel: MC is Terri Brennan, who as a young girl longed to play the piano but settled for the guitar instead. She falls in love with blues and becomes very accomplished as a musician. Obviously, not me, physically. But as a child, I did yearn to play the piano and, like Terri, I couldn't because we lived in an apartment and had no place for a piano (and couldn't afford one, anyway). I also developed a love for blues fairly early on, but I didn't take up the guitar until my college years; I played drums instead (although I didn't have an actual drum set until we moved into my grandmother's house when I was 16). Another character in the book is Mick Connor, a drummer. Mick is nothing like me at all other than the fact that we both play drums. He is also older than I am. But my drumming knowledge is reflected in Mick and my experiences with bands informs my descriptions of what happens in the novel. I actually wrote it as a way of dealing with being rather unceremoniouosly dumped from a band I had been in for about a year.

    New project: A dystopian novel set 250 years in the future in which the MC is Paul Larkin, the son of a poor farmer who becomes leader in a new American revolution. Other than his ideals, he is nothing like me at all. At least, not at this time. I'm still early in the project, and one thing I have learned about MCs is that they tend to have wills of their own.
     
  20. ericb0redalot
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    ericb0redalot New Member

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    In the novel I'm working on right now (which is my first real attempt at writing a legitimate novel), my main character doesn't have my same name, but has basically the same background and personality as me. This is probably because I'm writing about something that is going on in my life at the moment. Everything that happens beyond the first chapter isn't what happened (because it hasn't happened yet, obviously), but all of the other characters are based on real people/family members.

    There is a love interest for my main character. It's a bit of a sci-fi element as well. So obviously, none of the science fiction stuff has happened and it probably won't. Once I get to writing the good stuff, I expect the characters to develop a lot of differences.

    Anyway I guess this makes me the complete opposite of everyone else here, because everyone else seems to be doing the opposite. Oh well, I like being weird. :)
     
  21. Sang Hee
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    Sang Hee Contributing Member

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    I think it's pretty much what most of the authors do when they decide how the main character is. I try to avoid it by having multiple characters without preferring any of them.
    Anyways, life is the best inspiration and that's what people mostly go with.
     

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