Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Writing Yourself into Your Manuscript

No way.  I’ve already written two books and none of my characters were anything like me!  That’s half the fun of writing, right?  You get to create people who didn’t even exist before your miniature God fingers went to work; breathing life into them and their complicated ups and downs.

I write about places and things I’ve never seen; situations I’ haven’t lived- all for the fun of experiencing something new and exciting.

So, why on earth would I write myself into my manuscript?  It makes no sense.

And yet,

There I am.  I totally wrote myself into my wip.  Not ME, me, but my high school self.  I didn’t realize it until it was too late.  My name is Katie.  Her name is Kelly.  I had blonde hair and green  (okay they’re really blue with yellow in the middle but for some reason they never actually look green.  For me, this defies all logic.) eyes.

Kelly has ‘honey colored hair and green eyes’.  Skinny, goofy, but coming into her own Junior year of high school.  Me,me, me, me me me!  Obsessed with Shakespeare- memorizing and reciting lines from his plays (Mi)…. won’t settle for love unless it’s like a storybook (Moi)….Falling in with the guy nobody expected.- the pretty geek and the bad ass hottie- (Mich!)  -Grrr!-   

Of course, in my wip, their love is complicated when said bad ass lover boy springs a man-tail, so that’s where the similarities end, thank God. *sigh*  How could I let this happen?

 Has anyone else accidently written themselves into their MS or am the only freak on the planet?

45 comments:

Ted Cross said...

My story evolved over twenty years from characters derived from playing role playing games. Since I was essentially playing myself in the role playing games, it make sense that I can see myself in the main character of my novel.

Christine Danek said...

I can see bits of myself in different characters that I create. I think we tend to write what we know. I think we know ourselves pretty well, right?

Laura Pauling said...

I'm sure there are parts to myself. But on a more emotional level. Nothing wrong with either way!

Slamdunk said...

I can see where that could happen. Writers get so involved in their stories and characters, writing yourself into a work seems natural.

Piedmont Writer said...

I always write myself into my characters. How could I know them inside and out if I didn't? Of course I don't write everything about me but there are little pieces of me in each of the characters.

Christine Fonseca said...

Oh yeah...it defiintely happens. Usually I catch it in the revisions and change it a bit...Great post.

Jen said...

I definitely add myself in characters, I never realize it until after it's written, and my husband is normally the one who lets me know!! It's funny because I normally say something like 'They are nothing like me' and he said 'Really?' *pointing to several pages about me* 'Oh, okay maybe I do'

Jaydee Morgan said...

I don't start out that way either but I do see similarities in the ways my characters will react to events that very well could be me.

They may not be carbon-copies of ourselves but I think we do put a little of ourselves into our characters - whether we mean to or not.

Meredith said...

Haha, I always put bits of myself in my MCs, but I try to create important differences. It's so strange how you can just fall into a character sometimes without even realizing it. High school you sounds like an awesome character, at least! :)

Damyanti said...

I think all writers put bits of themselves into their characters, knowingly or otherwise. It is only natural. So, no, you're not a freak :)

Summer Ross said...

I think anything I would write would walk out with bits and pieces of me in it... its part of writing for me. Sometimes it might be my attitude, sometimes the way I dress, sometimes how I look. But I don't worry too much on it, it happens and each writer can decide what to do with it, personally I don't mind as long as my characters are good and strong in some of their own things too.

Indigo said...

I think we all do this. After all we tend to write what we know. Maybe not places or even people, but definitely personalities. We use our own emotions for a backboard on how someone may react to certain situations; so it makes total sense we're in our WIP's in some shape or form. (Hugs)Indigo

Lindsay (a.k.a Isabella) said...

I've done this as well. I wasn't aware that there were parts of me in my MC, but reading back I thing "Crap, that's a bit of me talking." lol.

Clarissa Draper said...

I don't write me but I will write some of my little quirks or traits in. I wouldn't want myself to be in any of my stories. Everyone would be so bored.

CD

Tamara Narayan said...

My character, Jodie Belay, has my hair color and my eye color. We both went to Chapel Hill as undergrads and we are both obsessed with fiction, in particular, Stephen King. Oh yeah, we're both shy spend most of our time alone. (At that age I was a loner, now, I can't get a minute to breathe.)

Instead of living in the dorms, Jodie has a apartment. She's also a waitress and her best friend, Michael, is gay. Oh, and she has ESP and kidnaps a young girl (to save the kid's life).

So yes, she's based on me, but not a carbon copy.

Falen (Sarah) said...

i don't think i have. At least, not that i've ever noticed...

KarenG said...

Well since my novels are both autobiographical...yes I show up quite a bit. Only thinner and more attractive, with more psychotic tendencies.

Nicole Zoltack said...

My characters are more likely to have aspects of my personality than looking like me. I try to keep myself out of my writing but sometimes that doesn't always work.

Mina Carlisle said...

Of my two WiPs, one character is exactly like me just like the setting is exactly like the small podunk down I grew up in down to the ice cream joint called Udder Delights.

Sometimes it just happens be it accidentally or not being able to escape the old adage "write what you know"

And high school you, for the record, sounds like we would have been great friends.

Clara said...

Totally. But I think this is the fun of it: We all are a piano. We usually play the same keys that define the song "US" but as writers we can explore so many different tunes to create different personalities, through observations of both the enviroment around us and ourselves.
Ok, I just lost myself here lol

But I did include a geeky girl on my book who looks like me. But that was intentionally. =)

Bekah said...

oh for sure, on some level LOL. Even if it is just what I WISH I could do

Old Kitty said...

Awwww!!! Go Kelly!

I think I have whom I want to be at all levels in all my characters! :-)

Take care
x

Talli Roland said...

No matter how hard I try, my MCs always end up being snarky. I guess it's my internal snark coming through!

Shannon O'Donnell said...

Ha ha ha! You are totally normal, girl. I think we all do it, at least a little bit, whether we are aware of it or not. :-)

Kelly Dexter said...

I've written aspects of myself into certain characters, but I've yet to step back from a character and go "Aaaahh! It's me!". If it does happen, I'm sure I won't realize until it's too late, like you. I think it's a totally normal thing to do. I bet it's just the sudden realization that makes it feel strange.

Lenny said...

hi miss katie! yep for my last two books guess whos the hero? ME lenny lee! ha ha. now for my next one im gonna have a girl (ick) in it for a hero cause not many book have girl heros. it gonna be hard cause i dont know not one thing on how girls think.
...hugs from lenny

Melody said...

I haven't...yet. But I have a feeling I will in the future, whether I want to or not, and I'm trying to delay that day...

Julie Musil said...

Oh that's funny! Thank goodness your high school honey didn't have that tail. Ugh!

I don't think I write me in to the story, but you know what? I wonder....

I definitely can feel what the mc is feeling though, since some of the stuff I throw in their are from real-life situations.

Who knows, this may be your most powerful book, because you can relate!

The Alliterative Allomorph said...

Nope you're not a freak. I've done that plenty! ;o)

Carolyn V. said...

I wrote myself into my first book. I'm so glad I didn't query that thing. =)

Shannon Whitney Messenger said...

I try very hard not to, but there's always PARTS of me in my MC. My current MS has a MC who does look a little like I did as a kid--minus all my awkward bits--but she's way smarter, funnier, and braver than I ever was. So I guess she's kind of the me I wanted to be. Le sigh.

Sorry I haven't been around much. My blog hopping habits were severely destroyed by WriteOnCon, but I'm trying to get back in the habit. I miss my blogging friends!

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

Sorry, so far none of my main characters are me. I'm actually kinda boring, so that might make for dull reading.

Nicole L Rivera said...

I wrote myself in to my first manuscript. Not by accident. It was originally going to be my story, then I realized I didn't want to tell my exact story so I switched it up. Still my main character Nina resembles me in many ways.

Jolene said...

We all do it. Whether we want to or not. I think its' awesome. I also have something really personal that I pawn off on one of my characters where anyone who knows me WELL, will be like, oh my gosh, I totally remember that!
It's just fun.

Vatche said...

Hey, Katie! You're most definitely not the only one who writes herself into her stories. I write myself and even sometimes my friends into my stories all the time.

Why do we do it? Are we trying to relive a moment in our lives? Solve something that was left unsolved?

There are a variety of reasons, but we mostly do it because we put ourselves into these situations because who do we know the best out of anyone in the world?

Ourselves.

So, write on!

Candyland said...

I don't think I know how to *not* write myself in. It's all I know, obviously, so yeah...you're not a freak!

Erin Kane Spock said...

My first lead was totally me. My wip lead is actively NOT me in a way that I have to stop and think "what would I do?" in order to realize for sure that she would not do what I would do. Of course, some of the issues and life experiences she has had are based on mine. Why? Because I understand them.
As I outline my 3rd heroine, she's not me, but she is a bit in her need to assert herself and be independent, but not trusting her own judgment and secretly enjoying being taken care of.
I wonder how long this can go on? When I'm on my 20th book, will I still be inserting myself into my characters? Probably.
I like to think using bits of myself makes my heroines believable and relatable. I just hope, as I siphon my soul into my stories, I'm not accidentally making horcruxes (you know, without the murdering someone part).

LTM said...

BAH!!! You must watch The Darjeeling Ltd. Not only b/c it's Wes Anderson, but I got SO many laughs out of that film after I finished my first novel.

OH, and it has some great French music~ <3

Teenage Bride said...

Well I write a lot of non fiction.. but I can see where this could be easy to fall into

Kelly M. Olsen said...

I think there is a little of me in all my characters - parts I'm proud of and expose to the world, and parts I'm trying to conceal about myself, but let "say their piece" in my writing. I wouldn't know how to write about times or places I don't know unless I put in massive time researching, which, coincidently, I'm having to do for my recent WiP because it is set in 2030. You started a great discussion here.

Hart Johnson said...

I definitely DON'T write ME in, but I have certain qualities that get written in. In my first book, the best friend is tall like my, so has humiliations like when they all build a snowfort at a sleepover and their clothes are wet, this friend has to borrow from the girl's DAD...

Then in my Cozy, the MC and her BFF both have the 'uncolor' of hair (that shade between blond, brown and red that nobody has ever named for me in spite of me having it... the one that when they call it dirty dishwater, I throw something at them, because dirty dishwater is GRAY and has no RED. *cough* (you may have guessed this is my shade...)- but I choose those qualities, as I have STORIES for them that add realism. And I DEFINITELY sprinkle them...

WhisperingWriter said...

In the novel I just finished, the heroine is kind of like me. She's a klutz and at first I gave her glasses with brown hair. Then I was all, "Um. We're not writing about YOU, Amber." So I ditched the glasses and changed her hair color. But she still can't walk in high heels. Like me.

Jemi Fraser said...

Not yet - but it'll probably happen by mistake at some time :) The only quality I share with my heroines is they tend to be short!

RosieC said...

I don't think my characters are *exactly* like me, but I think they each have a little part of me to them. And they've all got a whole lot of not-me, which is refreshing. I live my own life all day every day. I don't want to live it when I'm writing, too :)

Stina Lindenblatt said...

No, I finds bits of me sneak into my characters too. :)

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