Monday, August 30, 2010

My MC is Not Me!

This is something I've had to remind myself of lately. Mary Kole posted a recent vlog (also part of WriteOnCon)on characterization. She laid out a few questions for us writers to ask ourselves. One was:

Your character can't sleep. It's late at night, and everybody else in the house is wearing sleep masks and ear plugs and can't be woken up. In the very, very middle of the night, very privately, what does your character do?

The first thing that popped into my head was..."Leave the house and go for a run!"

Then I thought, "No! Too dangerous. What a stupid, stupid thing to do."

Then, "Wait, that's what I would think. Not what Tess would think."

Yes, let Tess run at midnight at her own peril, but she is bold and brazen and a teenager whereas I am cautious and thirty and a mom. Tess is not me. I am not Tess. We think differently. We do differently. I don't write my feelings and thoughts, but hers. Yes, she is a figment of my imagination, but one that I've created distinct from myself, and therefore she has her own distinct feelings and choices. And I must let her be...herself.


  1. I frequently censor my characters. For all kinds of reasons. Sometimes they want to do things that seem dangerous, like Tess did. Sometimes my characters are stupid. Sometimes they want to do things that I'm embarrassed to write. (Interpret that how you will.)

    It's definitely a good idea to just let the character be themselves. The story will feel truer for it.

  2. I think sometimes it's hard to let go of our moral compasses and let characters behave outrageous or off the wall or even evil.

    My friend told me that it's good to write and imagine that no one will read it.

  3. I would like a character who wants to go running in the middle of the night. The character I'm writing is cautious, but sometimes he is such a boy - something he doesn't get from me. ;)

  4. Where do I archive this post for when your cute, sweet little kids become 'independent seeking' tweens/teens?

    (I'd much rather use other terms I'm much more familiar with such as: mouthy, defiant, moody, and so forth... but I don't want to scare you. After all, they are only 'e-v-ill' for a little while... right?

    Um, hello?? Anyone??? Someone... PLEASE don't tell me this is a permanent attitude/state of mind for the rest of *his* possibly much shorter life!!!!)


  5. I think a little bit of us finds its way into our MCs. Not so much the secondary characters, but it's hard to completely remove ourselves from the MC. We know them too intimately and that intimacy has to come from somewhere to feel genuine.

  6. Isn't it easy to get ourselves mixed up with those characters? It's like kids, right . . . learning to take a step back and letting them grow and learn on their own.