Thursday, March 11, 2010

Writing Main Characters Based on Yourself

A reader e-mailed me to ask, is it normal to always write about a character who's basically me?

I hope so, because I did it all the time.

I think this is an easy thing to do for a couple reasons:

1. We often use writing as a way of exploring ourselves. Our thoughts, feelings, principles, etc. Creating a main character who resembles you is an easy way to go about this.

2. The old adage, "Write what you know." Who do we know better than ourselves?

While it's certainly normal, I eventually figured out that I was limiting myself by making all my main characters me. When I started writing characters with different family backgrounds, religious viewpoints, etc., I stretched my creativity and made my story bigger than myself.

My first attempts at this was Me, Just Different, so I'd say it paid off big time.

So if you routinely create characters who are similar to you, try branching out and see what happens.
Have a question? E-mail me.


  1. I once made a character say, "You art is you--but you are not limited to your art." I think the same can be said of writers. There's always going to be something of ourselves in a main character. What can be fun--and more interesting--is to make just one or two characteristics your own.

    Having read many of Stephanie's books, I know she does this too. Skylar has a few things in common with her, but many of her own traits. Gabby is more like her in other ways, but then veers off. Same goes with her other heroines. One has her curly hair, another her taste in music, another has dealt with some of the issues she's dealt with.

    There's a lot to a person, so plenty to put into a ton of different characters--they don't have to be carbon copies to have a little of you. =)

  2. That's a good point, Roseanna, about characters having an element of you, but not necessarily having all of you. Which is different than when I first started writing and my characters were basically me but better looking and with a cooler name :)

  3. LOL, same here, Stephanie! Brook, in the first incarnation of FIRE EYES, was all me. Except she always said everything I WANTED to say, and was, you know, stunning. In rewrites, I made her more herself and less the twelve-year-old ideal of myself.