It's been a bit since my last Q&A post and with my birthday this past week, I wanted to have a little fun by inviting my Twitter followers to ask about me and my writing.
@rebecca_linam asked this question:
How much of your own personality goes into your characters' personalities?
This is something I think is often been in the back of my mind when I'm writing, even if I'm unaware of it.
The best way to answer this question is to start with answering a different one.
One common conversation starter I've seen circulating on Twitter is asking followers what actor they would want to have play their protagonist if their WIP were to be made into a movie.
Dreamcasting can help define a character's physical appearance or other attributes like mannerisms and voice, but it's not as easy for me.
My typical response to this question is that my characters are often amalgamations of several people, borrowing traits from one and blending them with those of another two or three.
There have only been a few instances at most where a single person comes close to matching what I envision in my mind.
It's a little difficult to explain, but when I picture my characters, I just see them. They're just there, existing somehow—which makes describing them in writing a challenge.
My cast is comprised of walking Pinterest boards. Bits and baubles of several sources woven together in a central place.
One character of mine could be considered a mixture of Luke Norris, Bradley James, Benoit Marechal, Lucas Till, and Domhnall Gleeson's portrayal of Levin in Anna Karenina.
And that's just his looks!
The same thing happens with my characters' personalities and the way my personality influences them.
As a reader, I tend to feel most connected to a story when I can see a part of myself in the characters or relate to their struggle from experience, so I end up bringing a little of myself into all of my characters, even if it's done unintentionally.
The exact amount varies on a few factors.
One that comes to mind is the conflict a character may be facing. If it's something I've encountered personally, like the death of a parent, feeling like the odd one out at family gatherings or in friend groups, or just feeling stuck in life, it's going to come out in my writing. Drawing on these experiences isn't easy, but there is something cathartic in it sometimes. It creates an opportunity to reflect and maybe address things I haven't confronted yet, and my characters' reactions may be based on my own, what I did or would do in their shoes.
With reflecting comes reassessing. I think more often, my characters' decisions are based on what I wish I had done or said in a particular scenario. Those arguments won in the shower long after the dust settles. Plenty of my characters are based more on who I wish I were or who I want to be. Alter egos, in a sense. These are the characters who just say what's on their minds or in their hearts without fear of repercussion because leaving something unsaid would be worse. Daredevils who aren't afraid to do their own stunts or take chances that scared me off. People who live and love without regret, or don't take as long to learn from their mistakes.
Similarly, my personality plays into those of characters who are the opposite of myself. These are the characters who do what I would never dare, for better or for worse. When I'm writing a sleaze and a line of their dialogue makes me feel icky, I take that as a sign that I am on the right track.
This cringe factor also aids in shaping those who I am more similar to when I'm bringing out their flaws. No one is perfect. There are things I wish I could change about myself, and my characters might share in them. It may be easier for them to overcome their faults than it is for me, but seeing them work through those issues proves to me it can be done.
Call it wish-fulfillment if you'd like, but I enjoy reading about characters overcoming problems I've faced and often share in their feeling of triumph or accomplishment, and I hope my readers will one day have the same experience reading my works.
No matter how much of myself is woven into a character, I aim to avoid inserting myself completely. One reason I love writing is the element of escapism from things—including myself.
Adding in little fragments, however, is nearly inevitable.
That's it for this Q&A post. I genuinely love writing these and connecting with my readers so if there is a topic you'd like to see me cover, follow me on Twitter to stay updated on when another one is on the horizon.
And of course, you can always check out the Q&A Submissions tab in the site's menu bar and send in your questions at any time.