I came across a post by a literary agent that basically said she always learns so much about an author through their work.
This got me thinking, how much of myself is inside my current work in progress? I will be comparing myself to my main character. You can play along too.
5 points if this trait is a mirror of you. 3 points if it’s in the ballpark of you. 1 point if it’s nothing like you.
1) Does your character have the same goals as you? Work/life goals?
My Score: 3 points. My MC and me are in the ballpark. However, I’m already happily married. She just wants to be happily anything.
2) Does your MC come from the same background as you? Family history, beliefs, etc?
My Score: 1 point. Unfortunately, I do not come from a long line of gorgons. Dammit! I just come from Mexicans.
3) Does your MC share personality traits with you?
My Score: 3 points I’m a lot more anxious than my MC. She’s more fearless than I am, I envy that about her. But she has a tendency to live in the past, like myself, and she’s hesitant to commit to things and people. I have a little of that in me as well.
4) Does your MC have the same sexual preference as you? And a follow up question; Does your MC fall for the same kind of people you do?
My Score: 3 points/5 points. Yes and no. My MC is very..open to people. Later we find out an interesting side to her. A side of which her and I do not share. Not that there’s anything wrong with that. Yes, as far the men she likes, they are my fantasy men. A girl has to indulge, right?
5) Does your MC have the same hobbies as you?
My Score: 3 points. We both share similar music tastes, both not really into fashion, love gossip magazines. But I’m not into as recreational drug use as her. But we both love pasta quite a bit.
Would you be friends with your MC? Would you get along?
My answer: YES!! I would love to go on the town with her. I’d love to meet her friends, and watch bad movies and eat ice cream. I have a tad girl crush on her. No, that’s not weird at all.
My Total: 18pts.
0-10 points: Wow, you and your MC could not be more different. You are your MC are two total strangers on opposite sides of the street. That can make for some interesting writing, but it can be more difficult to write.
10-20 points: You and your MC aren’t mirror reflections but are not far from it. You share some traits but you aren’t writing about yourself. Remember, don’t always use the best traits of yourself. Remember to draw from other people as well. Keep reminding yourself, it’s not you. Your MC isn’t you.
20 points or more: Talk about the man in the mirror! (RIP MJ). Was it a conscious decision to model your MC after yourself? I know I have a short story where I did this once. If it wasn’t intentional, maybe re-evaluate your character a bit, mix them up a tad. If it was intentional, then maybe you are so awesome, it was worth it. All kidding aside, you don’t want people to confuse your MC with yourself. It could prove to be embarrassing depending on the story.
I think it’s great if you use PARTS of yourself for a character but you never want to use too much. You can’t really view yourself objectively. You always run the danger of either romanticizing yourself or you end up knocking yourself down. Plus, you are making yourself extremely vulnerable to critique of any kind. You will have a harder time trying to separate yourself from critique of your character and yourself. That’s not fun at all. And it’ll be even harder if you get published, and gain a wide audience. I say it’s better to leave traces of yourself in the character. Only you will know what pieces are you and what aren’t.
I have to say, as a reader, I don’t think about the author when I’m reading a fiction story. I put them out of my mind when I’m reading their story. I learned a long time ago to separate the author from the story. I know I got tired quickly of people in my high school creative writing class asking me if the story was about myself. That’s not always the case. I do have stories which resemble my life that was intentionally done that way but it’s not common.
How did you fare in the quiz?