1. Cornys
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    Cornys Member

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    Yourself as a Character

    Discussion in 'Character Development' started by Cornys, Feb 1, 2011.

    I have done it to pretty decent success on fanfiction before (mind you that this is a character that's not actually said to be yourself, but you know that it is almost exactly like you in thought and action). I was wondering if this is typicaly a good idea. Note that I know people who are high on themselves probably shouldn't do this in the first place, but I don't beleive that I am.
     
  2. Archnenna
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    Archnenna Active Member

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    It is a good idea if written well. If you make yourself perfect in everything you do, then it's not a good idea. But if you write down your flaws and weaknesses along with your strengths then it's a good idea. For that I'd suggest to go to a friend and ask them their true opinion on you - it might help a lot.
     
  3. Mallory
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    Mallory Mallegory. Contributor

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    Actually, I've found that this is not the case. If the character is too similar to you, it's much harder to fully develop him/her because you're not thinking (maybe not on a conscious level, but perhaps subconsciously) hard about this person's personality. You know how they say you're most likely to get in a car crash within 5 miles of your home because you're not as focused? It's like that. Whenever I've tried to write characters of my own age range/occupation/personality etc, they fall flat. My most recent novel's character was a 10-year-old boy and I found it much easier to develop him, because I had to actually stretch my mind about it.
     
  4. Elgaisma
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    Elgaisma Contributing Member Contributor

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    I'm going to agree with Mallory - I find writing men much easier for a start. I think characters are easier to build when you see them as seperate entities from yourself.
     
  5. Cornys
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    Cornys Member

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    I will say that it is hard to make sure that the reader knows how you are as a character, I ran into that issue a couple of times.
     
  6. Mallory
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    Mallory Mallegory. Contributor

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    What do you mean? Are you talking about how it's important to convey your personality to the readers? Because that's not a good idea -- as I've said, it's better when the MC is separate from you.
     
  7. J_Jammer
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    J_Jammer Banned

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    My MC and me share similar viewpoints on a few issues, share something else and another thing. Overall not too much the same, but just a little bit.

    It is my character. It would have to have some part of me in it. It's like giving birth. Your characters, good or bad, have a bit of you.

    Over saturation can happen, but I believe it's possible to write a character that is a lot like you. I think it's best to make it 95% like you...leaving 5% open for other things that come to you...that way it's not strictly held.
     
  8. Birmingham
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    Birmingham Active Member

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    Well, if a character is an entire clone of yours, maybe that's bad. But I think it's okay to have many of the characters have things in common with you. For example, if my character is a child, and he lives in a country different than my own, and has experiences I never had as a child or as an adult, I'm still going to draw partially from who I was as a child, and base his worldview on that. I remember how historical events that took place during my childhood only partially sipped through to my mind, and how certain images on TV were interperted by me.

    There are characters based on me who are from opposing ends of the political spectrum, and one of them hates the other with a passion.

    So, even if I write the character of a person decades older or decades younger than me, and with a different opinion or different capability to understand the complex reality, still that character will have some of me in it.
     
  9. Cornys
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    Cornys Member

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    I was meaning when I had done this with a character previously :D
     
  10. Melzaar the Almighty
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    Melzaar the Almighty Contributing Member Contributor

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    I think the problem is that you see yourself in a way more complex way than any character you create, where you focus on making them consistent, or at least highlighting their inconsistencies in a way that makes sense to the reader. The best characters are the ones where you really don't know what they're thinking, even when you do, how there's always a zillion ways to read into what they're doing, because they are the most like how you see yourself. They're the most accurate, humanly.

    Now, I could make a character of me who was a pretty stereotypical lazy student who stresses about her work, battles with the students' union to publish a magazine, and muses existentially on her walks too and from the uni in a symbolic of something park. But that is pretty much the bare surface of me, and one random deep fact pulled from so many things that make me more than just a surface person. I didn't even mention the fact that most evenings this character spends her time writing novels, or she's a drummer in a band, or her parents just split up, that she had a crush on her best friend, collects stuffed toy aardvarks and alligators, and so on and so on. After a while there gets a point you can't cram in everything about a person or you just end up doing a character study on them. All the time I spend on Facebook isn't good storytelling but it is a characteristic of me.

    Basically, for good or bad, portrayals of ourselves always skim off what we think is the most interesting about us, and therefore only really create another character, who fits a story. If I wanted to write a novel about someone overcoming a Farmville addiction I'd draw on a very different side of myself than the lesbian drummer in an indie folk rock band, or my trials and tribulations as a writer... Each one a very different Melly who would make different reading in different books.
     
  11. Cornys
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    Cornys Member

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    Interesting way to look at it, I was contemplating using myself as a character in my next short story, and thus I posted this thread, but reading it I beleive that I will only take small portions of myself, and add a few that aren't me. Thanks for the debate guys, I'll add in from time to time now as I have made up my mind :)
     
  12. Mallory
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    Mallory Mallegory. Contributor

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    Glad you decided on how to go about it. :)

    One thing to add -- there's nothing wrong with interjecting bits of yourself into your MC with regards to how he/she feels about certain things, as J_Jammer and Birmingham have noted. I just meant that if you're a 32-year-old dentist from Portland, Oregon, your MC should not be a 32-year-old dentist from Portland, Oregon (unless there are major, major differences to balance it out).

    Good luck!
     
  13. Birmingham
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    Birmingham Active Member

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    Actually, one of my characters, when he has flashbacks to the time that he was young, the character of the young version of him should be very similar to me, with some minor differences. Including party affiliation. But overall, very close. I think it should go well, since I put this young man through a situation that I personally never experienced. So it's sort of my life, plus one intriguing experience.
     
  14. nikki3
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    nikki3 New Member

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    If you want my opinion well I thinck is good but it depends on what and how you do this character that is you. What I do is that I put myself or I represent myself in story that are social. Example, I would put myselft in the middle of a story where there is gun fire and sword battle because I do not live in a battlefield right know and I am not a soldier so I do not really see myself in that kind of story. But I do see me in stories where there is dramatic tension between character or just comedy. So in the end it depends on you and how you put yourself in the story. You know what you are capable or not as a human and I know that being on a battlefield I would probably overreact, so if I would put myself there it would be to laught at me and my reaction.
     
  15. Jonias
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    As others have said, it could encourage lazy writing and a lack of development. But I don't think it's always bad. I think using yourself as a starting point and going form there could work out well, but I personally like to start with a character who is very different from me. I almost always draw from experience when writing stories, though. That is perfectly fine, and I actually think avoiding it is pretty much impossible.
     
  16. KP Williams
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    KP Williams Contributing Member

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    The stories I write these days all take place in the same "world," with the same characters. The POV character is a carbon copy of me, right down to the scar on my hand and the freckle on my lower lip. I see this as a wise decision. Why? Because I write in first person, with the narration loaded with comments and insight from that POV character. I can't say for sure what anyone else would be thinking in any given situation, but I know my own thought processes pretty well. It only makes sense to go with the more certain option. I know a character based off of me would be believable, because hello, here I am!

    Besides that, these stories are my own personal fantasy. The character named KP Williams is living the life I wish I had in the real world--not a perfect life, but a vastly more interesting one. Inserting myself into a key role in the stories is the closest I can get to that.

    So sure, putting yourself into a story might inspire you to be lazy for aforementioned reasons. But it might also be a bit of an opportunity. A chance to make something out of a daydream.
     
  17. Cornys
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    Cornys Member

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    Interesting point, I havn't fleshed out my MC for my novel fully yet, but I think I will run more like me than what I had planed. I don't know anybody that I know better than myself.

    Writing in 1st person is what I'm used to by now even though 3rd is where I started. I think writing 1st person POV with a character who's mostly like me for my first attempt at publishing is the best bet.
     
  18. Flows
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    Flows New Member

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    How your own characteristics intertwine with the theme could get complicated. I imagine some of my own traits being inherent in my characters but I've never attempted to make myself a main character. I could definitely see it working although it would require I change my style up a bit. If you think about it when you are generating a resume you gaining practice presenting yourself to readers. Does anyone know of any resume service in the Midwest?
     
  19. Manav
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    Manav Contributing Member

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    I think it is inevitable that writers draw some qualities from themselves and give it to their characters, even when the char seem to be the opposite of who the writer is. We always do this subconsciously. So my advice to the OP is not to go about thinking I am going to write this char like me or partially like me. When you do that, you are in a way making your chars rigid, because you almost always know how you will react to certain situations, reducing your chances of creating a 3D char. And also, let's admit it, we are not the best persons to find flaws in ourselves, and flaws are what make a char real. A part of you will certainly reflect in your characters, just don't forced it and make it happen naturally.
     
  20. Islander
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    Islander Contributing Member Contributor

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    A story with me as the main character? God, how boring it would be!
     
  21. SeverinR
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    SeverinR Contributing Member

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    I try to develop each character, build the personality.
    If I use someone(including myself) I am trying to picture the person I am using in that situation, and it might not feel comfortable.

    I like making the person unique, strengths and weaknesses, likes and dislikes, even viewpoints different then mine.
    Like cooking, I use a dash of this person I knew, a dash of this other, and a little splash of an evil side like another.

    When deciding how a character would react to a situation, I don't want to wonder if the person I picked would do this this way. I know how the character will react because I know the inner workings of my char's mind, I don't know the individual's mind, so I don't know for sure how they will react.
     
  22. Porcupine
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    Porcupine Contributing Member

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    When I started writing, nearly every story had "me" as narrator and protagonist. :rolleyes:

    Now it's not quite so bad anymore. I still always have a character I relate to more than the others, however, even if they are not really me, I guess I sort of "roleplay" them, get inside them, while writing.

    I guess this can be a good or a bad thing, it probably depends very much on who you are and what you are writing.
     
  23. guamyankee
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    guamyankee Contributing Member

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    Or, you could pull a Stephen King and literally write yourself into one of your books. God, I hated that. I won't say which book it is.
     
  24. Yoshiko
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    Yoshiko Contributing Member Contributor

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    I think that no matter how hard you try, if you're writing a character that's too much like you then you're going to be biased towards them in some way, shape or form - you might not even be conscious of it.

    Writing a character too much like myself doesn't sound like fun. I don't think I'm a dull person -- only person who ever calls me boring is the chick in the next room when I ask her to turn down the music at 4am :rolleyes: -- but I still don't think it would be all that interesting. Writing about someone else is so much easier. Plus, if I have no emotional attachment to a character then I'm not going to treat them special.
     
  25. SeverinR
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    SeverinR Contributing Member

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    He has a cameo in every one of his movies.
    I think he is in more then one book, isn't he?
     

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