Should You Resemble Your Characters?

I can think of several colleagues who would take one glance at that question and say "no way". Some may express that more forcibly!

I can think of several of my own characters whom I would never want to meet in life, yet alone resemble, and for all sorts of reasons.

Outline the characters and away you go.  Image via Pixabay
So why ask? Well, so much depends on the character, doesn't it? If a character shows grit, determination, honour etc, we probably wouldn't mind emulating them. If a character shows horrible traits, we'd pass, thank you.  How many of us want to be a coward for example?

In outlining our stories, we have to create our "people" based on what we know about human nature and behaviour. We know we need our characters to be believable so that means no goody-goody heroes of whatever gender.  It also means no cardboard cut out villains.  They’ve got to have some redeeming quality or a motive which is understandable.  Often writers do both of course.  


What characters will you come up with?  Image via Pixabay
Redemption, of course, is possible, as is a good character going astray. What makes us choose which way they go? A wish to show that if this character was us, this is how we'd be? Or do we opt for the choice of this is how the character would be and I wouldn't be like this in a zillion years?

In creating our characters, we have to be honest in their portrayal (or readers will see straight through it and switch off). So maybe I should have rephrased the question to read do we resemble our characters? I suspect there would be some interesting answers to that!

Planning your characters.  Image via Pixabay
Truth is stranger than fiction but good fiction can reveal something of what humans are capable of, even if we use fantastical creatures to represent us in some way. Sometimes good fiction can be  prophetic and I am thinking of George Orwell’s 1984 here especially.  Whatever would he have made of social media? I can imagine his harsh criticism of it.

And what is the great thing about honest character portrayal? Simply, I've found both as a reader and writer, that honesty comes through, and I am engaged with those characters and their stories as a result. It is, for me, honestly portrayed characters, whether they're goodies or baddies, that grip me and keep me reading.  I identify with the truth behind their portrayal.


Always a good question!  Image via Pixabay

Even in flash fiction, my genre, the moment I have what my character is like outlined, I am away, happily scribbling the story down. After all, if I'm not engaged with my people, why should anyone else be?

It has been a long time since I last saw one of these.  Image via Pixabay
So it's off to write characters that intrigue me then. The great thing is I don't have to like them, yet alone resemble them.  Just as well really.  Fiction would suffer without the characters we dislike. Story is conflict and it is the dubious characters that get that conflict going.  We need to see the Ebenezer Scrooges before their transformation to be able to appreciate that transformation when it happens.  Now just how human is that?!

Characters, no matter what their world setting, should resonate with readers.  Pixabay image.










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