Sunday, 15 May 2011
Characters: Who Are They Really?
Do you put yourself in your novel?
I've seen this question asked a lot of times on writers' boards. On the face of it, it's a simple proposition. Does your novel contain someone who looks and behaves like you? But scratch the surface and you'll see there is more to it than that. Because as the author you are presenting every character as if he/she were you. You have to understand every character, know what motivates them, know how they feel. If not you couldn't realistically create them, could you? So, logically you put yourself in every character in your book. Each of them is an aspect of you.
And come to think about it, isn't that the reason we write? In the real world the most difficult thing to deal with is usually other people. But not in our fictional world. Here we can literally play God - we have total control of everything that happens and if a character steps out of line we can zap him in a way that wouldn't be acceptable in real life. We can relive all those past humiliations and pay back the hurt. In a sense, writing fiction is therapy. We pour out all our pain and turn it into gold.
And as well as that we get to see/feel/taste all those things we perhaps missed out on in reality. We get to put ourselves in another man's shoes, say all the wicked things we never dared to say. It's said people watch movies to lose themselves in the characters up on the screen. But writing fiction is even more intoxicating. Here there are no boundaries except the limits of your imagination. You get to write, direct and shoot your own movie starring Me, Me and Me. How much better does it get?