Thursday, July 27, 2006

A word about my characters

Okay, so I'm just starting out with this book, but I thought I'd go ahead and talk about this now so that there is/are no confusion/hurt feelings/delusions of grandeur later on when I start posting snippets. *g*

The characters in my novel will be entirely fictitious. None of them (even the MC) will be me, but they will all come from myself. After all, how can I think and respond for these characters outside of myself? Some part of me has to go into them in order for them to take life. I can't give them something I don't have.

For example, the main character has a lot of my characteristics. She's a medical physicist (at least for now--that may change), intelligent, witty, speaks her mind (and lots of other things), independent, brown haired and brown eyed, 5' 6", not thrilled with her body, loves to read, etc. In that way, she is like me, but not based on me. She is also a black belt, recently single, and at least bilingual (prolly Spanish, but I may have her learn Gaelic for fun), none of which apply to me.

In order to supply the parts of the characters that don't come from me, I will do a combination of two things: make it up entirely or "borrow" from my real life. What that means for you as a friend/reader is this:

You may see (or think you see) yourself or other people you know in my novel.

It may be a name, physical characteristic, personality trait, relationship to the main character, something else, or a combination of these. If you think it came from you, and you're close enough to me to suspect so, then it probably did. I may or may not ask you to use these things. But here's the important part:

Just because a character seems to be inspired by you does not mean that all aspects/actions of that character come from you or indicate how I think about you.

Just as the MC is similar to me but not me, so the other characters may be similar to people but not them. Shaylin and I discussed this the other day with regards to the MC, the male lead, and their relationship. Just as the MC is not me, the male lead (still unnamed) will not be him, though he may share some of Shaylin's characteristics. This is because to write a fiction story about these two people and their relationship, I have to be able to have them do/think/say things that neither Shaylin nor I would do/think/say. And when they are intimate (as they will be--they do get married after all) I don't want Shaylin to think that the MC is supposed to be me, but the male lead obviously isn't him, so I'm imagining being with another man.

I'm saying this now because I wrote the first part of chapter one the other night, and right off the bat people who know me are going to go "Aha! I recognize those names! Then the MC must be Jenny herself..." The truth is, yes--I did borrow the situation from my real life, because I thought it would resonate with readers and generate sympathy for the MC (wow, I sound like a real writer already!). And I just happened to like the real names of the people involved; I thought they fit well with the story. But those characters are not intended to be the real people they are named for. (And if you've known me for very long and can't figure out who I'm talking about, then maybe you don't know me as well as you think you do...) *g*

Speaking of the first chapter, the Evil Editor is doing the first 150 words of people's books right now, and I submitted mine. I'm torn. If he does it, I'll be glad for the experience and insight. But if he doesn't, that implies that it's pretty good in its own right. I guess we'll see.

Anyway, if you do want to be written into the book in a certain way, let me know, and I'll see what I can do. *g* But I may still borrow from you in other ways too.

And now back to my day job...


Shaylin said...

"...he may share some of Shaylin's characteristics."

So he'll be suave, dashing, quick-witted, and ruggedly handsome?

I can live with that. ;-)

Jon said...

bookish, arachnaphobic, over-educated, and dorky? :o)

your characters have to come from somewhere, after all. i've always thought something autobiographical might feel unoriginal to the writer, but to everyone else it is something new and unique.

Jenny said...

At this point, mainly left-handed, blue-eyed, and Catholic (as Shaylin was when I met him)...

deniz said...

do you mean to say that Shaylin is no longer left-handed, blue-eyed or Catholic? hee hee hee, sorry, couldn't resist. That's funny, Ryan's blue-eyed and Catholic, but definitely right-handed...

NBB said...

Oh, so unfair that I only read this now! :)

I would have applied. ;)