Tuesday, March 29, 2011
Who Are the Characters You Write?
Of course we can only write what we know, who could do otherwise? However, I also thought that that when I was writing some of the characters in my books I was drawing on the personalities of various people I have known throughout my life. The overbearing mother might have been based on the mother of a friend of mine from childhood. The nosy, busybody based on the neighbor across the street that knew everyone's business. The pompous know-it-all came from a man at church who was overbearing and dictatorial. It never really occurred to me that perhaps I was like those people too.
A long time ago I had a friend, about 15 years older than me, who often gave me insights into the world I hadn't yet figured out. She told me that those things we like about other people were things we liked about ourselves, and conversely, those things we didn't like in others were the things we disliked about ourselves. At the time I thought that was nonsense, but over the years I have come to realize that is why we are drawn to others; because we reflect ourselves in them, good or bad.
That's what we are doing in our writing too, isn't it? Our characters are reflections of ourselves. And for good or ill we know them intimately, because we are them. As we tell their stories we also reflect to our readers themselves. That's why reading, and writing, is such an amazing art. It connects us all in an intimate way that only art can.