So, I actually have something to confess.
I have the tendency to base characters off myself.
I really don't like it. And it isn't like they are entirely based off of me, but really the voice of the character (whether first or third person)...I know who the real voice is...it's mine.
And here's the interesting solution to all of this. Something a bit more...obvious than I care to admit. It came to me after reading over a writing project I had put aside for a very long time. And after reading I read over the last entry I had done, and I realized something about the main character.
My main character, I will admit, was partially based off of my own personality. And maybe in the first chapter or so, this was the case for the most part. Well, the chapter I had stopped at (and I am now continuing on) is now at Chapter 9. Things happen. People change.
Can you believe how long it took me to realize that?
As a writer, I should know that the whole purpose of a book is for something to happen to the character. Right? I mean, something needs to happen to the character...that's what a book is. Stuff happens.
Like my own experiences, after that "stuff" happens, I change. How can you not go through something and not be changed in some way?
When I read this latest chapter, I realized the character had changed. She wasn't me anymore. I wasn't the one telling the story. She was. It was her journey. Not mine. And I couldn't believe it. Because it all comes down to one simple solution. If you base your character off of yourself and you feel like it inhibits you somehow...just remember one thing:
Make something happen to them.
It may be you telling the story for the first few chapters before that something actually happens, but when that something happens? It won't be you telling the story. You're character will change. They have to, because that's life.
Because in reality, change can suck. Change can hurt. Change doesn't always feel good. Change can make wish things were "like they used to be."
can make you look weird.
can make you cynical.
can force you to realize home isn't what it used to be.
can cause doubts.
can cause relationships to fall apart.
Yet, despite all of this, change makes stories great. If it weren't for the painful changes we all face and overcome in life, there wouldn't be any great stories to tell. And if you make your character go through the same amount of change you had to deal with to become who you are, then your character will no longer be a version of you, but an entirely different, individual self.
And like Mark Twain said, "20 years from now you will be disappointed by the things you didn’t do than by the one’s you did. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover."
Just make sure your characters remember that after you put them through the wringer.
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Nicole Pyles, blogger for World of My Imagination is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com.