The awesome co-hosts for the July 3 posting of the IWSG are Erika Beebe, Natalie Aguirre,Jennifer Lane, MJ Fifield, Lisa Buie-Collard, and Ellen @ The Cynical Sailor!
July 3 question: What personal traits have you written into your character(s)?
First of all, I like how the question assumes I’ve written personal traits into my characters. This is something I think we authors should just take for granted. Everything we are, everything we’ve experienced, our pasts, our present circumstances…it all informs what we write. Whether we’re consciously trying to filter it out, or not, our worldview will become part of what we write. And I think that’s a good thing! No one else can write the book you are writing, because they aren’t you.
Ahem. *reels self back from tangent*
The fact that my own responses are how I’m programmed to write my characters is something I’m wary of. So I take time to create my characters as their own people with personalities in my mind. I know where they’re coming from, what hangups they have, things which scarred them as children, even their physical quirks
As we’re trudging along and I throw different obstacles in their path my first instinct is to write how I would react. And that’s not how I’m going to write the book. Nothing but similar type characters, reacting the same ways I would every time?
Nope. My books need diverse, distinct, developed characters. So I take another look at the scene I’m writing and instead wonder, how would Colton react? How would Mr. Smith respond to this bombshell? How is Michaela taking this? Then I start writing what they would do.
Are pieces of my own personality still sneaking through? Of course.
Still, I try hard to make sure the characters have their own way of doing things. Sometimes I try for complete opposites: an outgoing extrovert enjoying being the center of attention instead of what’s natural for me: an introvert fading into the background. Other times I go for more wish-fulfillment, i.e. when I was in a similar situation, this is the comeback I really wish I’d thought of then.
And for personal satisfaction, I always give each character one of my favorites to be their favorite. One show, a color, a food, something that is definitely all me. It’s a fun little easter egg (which probably no one else will care about unless they also love Firefly, or yellow, or chocolate peanut-butter ice cream).
If you’ve stuck around all the way to the bottom of this, congratulations! And here is your bonus prize:
A list of character strengths and weaknesses from author/former lit agent Nathan Brandsford.
“No one else can write the book you are writing, because they aren’t you.” Love that!
I’m almost positive I read that sentiment on Chuck Wendig’s blog, but I can’t remember which post. He dishes out a lot of excellent writing advice!
I love Firefly, so I would appreciate that easter egg.
Big virtual high five for you! We Firefly fans must stick together.
Not only do I love the title of this blog post, but I love Firefly too! I like your take on character traits and what we as authors have to do with them. Perhaps that’s why I like to write. So I can try out doing things or acting ways I’d not do in “real” life. Lots of food for thought on the question this month. Thanks for dropping by my blog.
It’s wish fulfillment, and I’m happy to admit it 🙂 Happy IWSG day!
Yippee a prize! Sounds like you strive for a balance of knowing you’ll include yourself and adding a snazzy extra to your characters.
Oooh I like that description! Yes, snazzy extras all around. I try to bling my characters up all good 🙂
Interesting blog and an added gift making it to the end of the blog. Thanks for sharing.
Of course! Thanks for stopping by.
Nicely done! I think I took the question a little bit differently this time: https://sharonecathcart.wordpress.com/2019/07/03/frequently-asked-question-what-personal-traits-have-you-written-into-your-characters/
I’ll have to go check that out. Happy IWSG day 🙂
Oh! Thank you for the tips. I love your character writing exercises. It’s a great way to ground ourselves in each of the different perspectives in our writing 🙂 Happy IWSG Day.
Thank you! And happy IWSG day 🙂
When I was writing a story for NaNo many, many moons ago, I caved and made my main character be a huge Doctor Who nerd. I always wonder when I’m reading books what personal traits the author put into their characters, for better or worse
Yes! I would love that in a character I was reading, it’s a point of connection when they love something you do.
And it’s kind of fun to guess which traits are personal and which the author based off of someone else, vs which are completely made up. Jay Kristoff cusses like a sailor himself, for instance. LOL