On how to keep yourself out of your books

January 21, 2010 at 00:10 (General)

This is not an easy task.

When the characters are born, they come right out of your head. And they are like your children. They will always bear some resemblance to you, one way or another. This is not your fault. And it is nothing wrong, you know.


Look at Samuel. He is a man and I am a woman. He is a vampire and I am not. He is old and I am young (relatively young, my friends tend to call me old). Great. However, he does resemble me a bit in the way he talks. He picked up some of my mannerisms.  That does not mean that he is me. But, hey, it is me telling the story. So it cannot be that bad.

And yet, although he struggles with words, like I sometimes do, it still are his words. And his thought are his completely.

How to do create a unique character that will not be your doppelgänger? I, for one; follow few steps while creating my characters. (And I do not skip any of them).

1. What are you?

I start naturally with establishing, who do I need for the next project. Gender, age, race, appearance, etc. All that makes up your character. The common error here is idealizing your main character. I mean, of course you want him or her to be the smartest and the prettiest person in all literature. But tell me this. Would you read a book like this:

He looked like a god standing there, with his golden locks, porcelain skin, and perfect face that looked as if it was chiseled by god himself. The sky must have been envious of his eyes. His golden skin was delicate like silk. He read seven books a week, he was a captain of the football team and spent his weekends saving endanger wildlife.

I admit. It is not that bad. I have received two feedbacks on this. One person confirmed that he would not read a book with such a main character. The other person was not sure. One thing; however, is a fact, both did not like it. Candy sweet character is not a good one. Your reader cannot identify with such an ideal person. And reading such a sweet book can give your readers cavities. You would not want that, now would you?

Keep them simple, keep them realistic. Your character can be smart and handsome, just do not go over board with that. ;)

2. How much me is there in you?

Now that I know who I want and I have met my character, I look at him/her closely. I need to assess how much me was added to the mix. And now two things I am glad about:

-Not many of my readers will ever get to know me personally. Therefore, they will not know that my character has a cat, because I adore feline. Besides if that is all that my character has of me, then it is fine.

-Most of my characters are male, while I am a female, so I just keep that in mind, and remember that they should not scream and cry for help when they see a spider and I am safe ;) Ok, seriously now, I write mostly about men, therefore I have to be more careful not to make them feminine. Ironically, that makes it easier to avoid turning them into me.

3. You have a great character? Good for you. Now make a copy and insert it as many times as you need into the story making some small changes. What?! Are you kidding me? Yes, I am.

Got ya :)

This is serious;however, trust me,  I have seen it happening. I too am guilty as charged. I have created two characters so similar that they could be twins. And I had to eliminate one. Sometimes we fail to notice that we no longer create, we are recreating.  It’s half so bad if you are recreating your own character. It’s much worse if it’s someone else’s. That; however, is a separate topic. For now just remember. People are not all alike. Why should your characters be any different from humans?

To avoid it, create every character from scratch. Forget all your previous characters. I know it’s hard, but it is manageable.

And now the most important thing. Find honest proofreader. I let my friends proofread my work, because they are painfully honest. Do not listen to people who love everything that you write. Criticism is good as long as it helps you become better at what you do.

There are some other things to keep in mind naturally. However, this post is already longer than it was supposed to be. Therefore, this has to be enough for now :).

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2 Comments

  1. Anonymous said,

    Much Thanks for this nice read. Now i know some more on this :) can’t know too much heh…

    • aishikami said,

      Thank you for your comment.
      I am glad you have found something for yourself here.

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