Friday, May 13, 2016

But Not Too Similar

I really need to embark on another writing project, because this, 'Oh hell, what am I going to blog about?" thing is getting old. Mostly I've just been working on stupid emo projects, including rewriting all of the verses in one thing because I didn't like the melody of them. And I've started like two others, and I have this idea for a concept album (an EP, technically) that's never going to happen. Basically, I'm wasting all my energy on crappy writing that is definitely never going to amount to anything. And I did say I wouldn’t mention that again.

Along with all of my past posts, I have here a list of possible future post topics. It’s a short list. The only one I haven't covered yet is the question of making characters similar to or different from yourself. So I guess we're going to talk about that now.

I have many, many stories and what-not posted online, and I got my start in that, as many people do, with fan fiction. Now, there's a little thing that tends to show up in terrible fan fiction (although it exists in original works too) called the "author insert fic." That's where you, or a thinly veiled version of you, appears in the story. Sometimes this character is the best thing ever, everyone loves them, and they save the day. This is called a Mary Sue. A Mary Sue is not necessarily an author insert, and an author insert is not necessarily a Mary Sue, but these often happen together.

With the exposition out of the way, we can get to the point. I try to keep my characters from being too similar to myself. Unfortunately, since I'm the one writing them, at least one in each story will end up with my sense of humor. Poor them. But none ever shared a similar background to me. None shared my particular eating habits, or my myopia (that's nearsightedness, I you haven't got a thesaurus handy), or my education/interest in history. To do so would make them a cheap copy of myself. And I would be writing crappy author insert fic.

The closest I think I ever let a character get to myself was in my second NaNo novel, The Tower, the so-called "steampunk Rapunzel" story. The main character had long hair, a practical fashion sense, and a dislike for emotional touchy-feely-ness. That was a mistake I wouldn’t be making again.

On a related note, of the dozen-ish projects I've embarked on, only about three have a female protagonist. Is it because I can't write a female character without making them like me? I don’t know. Probably. Maybe it's because I find female characters boring, with all their requisite emotions. Maybe it's because I've been seeing really lame female characters and I need to write a better one.

Bottom line is, you can't make a character too similar to yourself without people accusing you of straight up putting yourself in the story. Why does it matter what other people think? Because I'm trying to get published, damn it.

See you Tuesday, my dear three readers.

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