Pike's story!

Find out more 



Male/Male romance

Available now! Find out more 


Available now for only $1.99!

Find out more 


Watching is only half the fun...

Available now! - Find out more 



Gibson's story!

Releasing Oct. 20, 2015!

Find out more 



*This does not subscribe you to my blog.





Join the Fearless Romantics Reader Group

Search This Site
Powered by Squarespace
Latest From the Blog
Dig Through the Archives
100+ reading challenge 2010 about me adverbs agent agents ashley march author author blog author branding author intrusion author platform author voice author websites authors award awards backstory bad boy balance berkley heat best writing links beta club beta reader beta readers blog tour blog tours blogfest blogger blogging blogging tips book book covers book deal book marketing book promotion book reviews book title books branding characters comments contest contests crash into you creativity critique critique group critiquing dear author debut author deep point of view deep POV dialogue ebooks editing editors endings e-publishing excerpt face off friday feedback fiction fill-me-in friday first chapter first draft first novel genre genre fiction goals guest blog guest blogging guest post harlequin historical romance hook how to write humor ideas indie publishing inspiration interview joan swan Julie Cross kindle kissing blogfest kristen lamb links literary agent literary fiction love scenes marketing mashup melt into you memorable moments middle grade motivation motley crue movies muse music mystery mystery writing Nelson Literary Agency new years resolutions novels opening chapter opening lines openings overediting panster pantser paranormal pen name perfectionism pitching plotter plotting poll promotion publishing queries query query letter querying question of the day reading reading challenges rejection repost revising revisions romance romance author romantic suspense roni loren rough draft royal street rules RWA RWA nationals sagging middle Sara Megibow save the cat self-editing self-publishing sequels series sex scenes sierra godfrey social media social networking speed writing submissions suspense suzanne johnson teens tempest tiffany reisz time management TMI traditional publishing tumblr twilight twitter update urban fantasy voice WIP wip wednesday women's fiction wordiness work in progress wednesday workshops write tip writer writer toolbox writers writer's block writers' conference writer's toolbox writetip writing writing blogs writing contest writing craft writing goals YA young adult
« WIP Wednesday: It's Been a While | Main | Love at First Sight Blogfest! My Excerpt »

You Look Familiar: Putting Yourself in Your Characters


So everyone's heard the often repeated adage "write what you know."  Most of the time this is referring to writing about topics and settings you're familiar with.  You're a lawyer, so you write a story about a lawyer.  Or, you grew up in the Florida Keys so you write a story that takes place there.  But also, this can mean your characters.


I know I use inspiration from family, friends, and random people I've met in my life to create characters.  I'm sure most of our relatives quake in fear that they are going to pop up in one of our books.  But what about that main character?  My guess is that more often than not, that character has a lot of similarities to YOU, the author. Whether it's done on purpose or just naturally, that MC tends to take on a lot of the author's characteristics.

Don't believe me?  Go make the rounds (if you didn't yesterday) and read some of the excerpts from the Love at First Sight blogfest.  Here's my excerpt if you're interested.

If you've been blogging a while and "know" those particular bloggers personalities, many times you can see those things pop up in their excerpts.  Part of it is author voice.  But the other is that we're writing what we know best--ourselves.

There's many a time I read a book and think to myself--me and this author would get along.  Because I get a feel for the person writing the book through their characters and their writing voice.

But you have to be careful with this.  If your MC in each book is too much like you, then you're left with multiple books that have essentially the same character in them.  Which is okay if you're writing a series, but not so much otherwise.

So think through your MCs and try to keep an eye out for things that keep popping up.  Are all your MCs blonde?  Geeks?  Artistic?  Writers?  Have absent fathers?  Turn to chocolate when stressed?  Whatever.

For instance, I have trouble writing short heroines.  I'm tall (5'9") and have a hard time imagining what it must be like to be "cute and petite."  It's a foreign concept to me.  But I can't make all my MCs tall, it's not realistic.  So that's something I have to work on.

And that doesn't mean you can't put aspects of yourself in each of your characters, but just make sure they aren't the same aspects all the time.

So how much of yourself do you put into your characters?  Do you see themes repeating from one work to the next--which ones?  Have you ever read a book and thought you'd get along with the author?


**Today's Theme Song**
"All of Me" - Buckcherry
(player in sidebar--go ahead, take a listen)


Reader Comments (24)

Where I see myself in my characters is in their reactions to situations. And it probably comes from asking myself how I would behave if that happened to me. Even with my villains, I'm often thinking what would it take for me to behave this way.

February 15, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterDawnB

How fun! I'm going to run over and see if I can see their personalities shine through! I think that's why our favorite authors works always have a similar feel. It probably is their personalities shinning through.

February 15, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterT. Anne

This is so true, and I was just talking to a friend about this last week. I try to make a conscious effort not to have all of my main characters be Shelley, but little things slip out.

I have the opposite situation as you: I'm short (just under 5'1") and my female protagonists are all short. I guess because I can't imagine what it's like to have nice long legs and not need to constantly reach on tip toe for things. Hehe.

February 15, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterShelley Sly

You hit it on the nose for me. My first novel and a short story I wrote both feature MCs who write. The novel revolves around the MC's writing life, but the short story she just writes on the side as a release from the stresses of law school.

But, both writers.

That's the only trend I really see.

A character from ORacles Promise that mostly got cut would be considered an academic. Which is sort of me.

February 15, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterStephanie McGee

I definitely put a lot of myself into my characters, and I have to watch out to ensure they don't all fall into too much similarity. But... I also love to use my writing to be someone else. I can't handle going vegan, for instance, but maybe my MC can. I think that sort of thing helps my characters from all being the same incarnation of myself!

February 15, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterGuinevere

This post is so true! There's a little of me in every character I write, even the villians! Sometimes I find out more about myself through my writing.

February 15, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterAubrie

I agree completely-I always see myself in the character. But I am careful not to make the same mistakes twice.

February 15, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterOddyoddyo13

I've always put myself into my characters, male and female. I can't have a better font for their emotions. I don't usually use anything that's identifiable to me, just the quirky little things that make each character unique.

February 15, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterPiedmont Writer

On the dot, Roni. I have some serious editing to do.... :)

February 15, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterRA

Great topic... and it is something I'm looking out for as I revise the current WIP.

I do favor writing certain types of characters (locked box types) and themes (emergence of self-identity and struggle)... but am conscious of the danger of creating characters who sound like the same character. - Aack!

I'm only 5'2, so all of my main female characters are fairly short. I've tried to write about tall characters, but it doesn't feel right. It's like making a main character a right-hander. As a left-hander I just can't do that. :]

February 15, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterCatherine Kariaxi

There is something of me in every character I write. For a while there, all my heroine's had "daddy issues," until I realized it time to stop exploring that inner conflict with my craft and get some professional help. (LOL!!) Seriously though, I enjoy letting my characters behave in ways I'm too self-controlled to indulge in. To me, that's one of the most fun aspects of character development.

February 15, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterNicole Ducleroir

Physically my characters run the gamut. And I like to think personality wise as well (I'm fair boring :) I don't think we can completely avoid leaking bits of ourselves into the ones we create.

February 15, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterDeb@RGRamblings

After I complete this ms I will start another project with a mc who is not completely based on me... I wonder if it will be easier or more difficult to write it. I may be easier distant myself from creating flaws, but sometimes I wonder if it will be harder to stay emotionally invested.

Interesting post today!

February 15, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterAmber Tidd Murphy

I try to add a small piece of myself to each character that I write :) Not a lot, so that they can become their own person, but just enough so that I feel they belong to me and I understand them enough to write them. It's fun when you see other bloggers' quirks and personality traits come out in their characters, and especially so when they don't even notice it! I'm jealous of your height, BTW. I'm 5'4" and can't imagine writing a tall statuesque heroine :)

February 15, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterJulie Dao

I have trouble keeping myself out of my MC's. The only solution I have come up with so far is to make their backgrounds vastly different. Then, I try to write from a different point of reference everytime. The voice changes naturally if the the character has a completely different set of experiences.

February 15, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterTina Lynn

I often see some of myself in my MCs. I'm pretty short (about 5'2 or 5'3) and my MCs also tend to be fairly short. I can also be a little quick to get angry and I've also seen that in a few of my MCs. I don't especially mind seeing little bits of myself in a character, as long as it doesn't get out of control and turn into a self-insert.

February 15, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterKayKay

I love the challenge of creating a MC that is unlike me. It's not easy because, obviously, I'm not like a person I'm not(whoa.). But it's actually more fun to put yourself in someone else's shoes for a while.
However, I have lived out fantasies through my characters before...

February 15, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterJulie

Very true - I have never written a book but I have written several short stories and there's a piece of me, my husband, my kids, and everyone that is close to me in almost every story.

Love to you

February 15, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterKelly L

It's so easy to put ourselves into our characters. Great reminder not to do that. A little of us will always be there but the characters should be unique.

February 16, 2010 | Unregistered Commenterquixotic

I definitely try to keep myself out of my characters, but sometimes little tidbits of personality slip through. Great post, I'll have to keep an eye out to make sure none of my characters resemble me.

February 16, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterCheree

I'm very careful not to put too much of me into my characters, maybe only a bit here and there. But I'm with you on the height thing. I can't write short protagonists because I can't relate to them. But the best friends are ususally shorter because so were my friends. :)

February 16, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterStina Lindenblatt

Myself and those really close to me are my characters...or a strange fictionalized blending thereof.

And, yeah, I get an immediate connection to some authors too.

Happy Mardi Gras!

February 16, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterAngie Ledbetter

Each time I wrote a main character, I put a piece of myself in him or her. I also put part of my past and present in the story. But I never want to use too much of me or my story or I'll run out of material for the next manuscripts!

February 17, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterTheresa Milstein

Haha Roni - I never even _considered_ writing tall characters. It's a rebellion against the fact that tall people are always the famous ones/models, etc. (I was so pissed I couldn't model as a teenager because I'm short as they come.) I write short characters as a voice for all us shrimpie womenfolk.

LOVE Buckherry :)

February 18, 2010 | Unregistered Commenter52 Faces

PostPost a New Comment

Enter your information below to add a new comment.
Author Email (optional):
Author URL (optional):
Some HTML allowed: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <code> <em> <i> <strike> <strong>