“Write what you know” is one of the foremost writing tips you find out there. Naturally, its easier to write from your own point of view (POV), creating a character that shares your religion, political beliefs, and even the attitude. However, this can lead to redundancies to your characters. Every story ends up mirroring your personality rather than offering readers a fresh character with fresh stories.
Are you writing the same main character over and over? To shake things up, consider giving your character the opposite set of beliefs. This offers exploration to ‘the other side’, and perhaps even better understand issues. It leads to questioning our own biases, on how we perceive those who do not agree with our view.
A good example is the main character in The Vampire Diaries. I read that as a teen, and couldn’t stand the main character. She reminded me too much of the girls who picked on me in school. Now, as an adult, I find it interesting as to what leads a person to behave in such a way?
What weakness do they work from, to bully others, or feel an inflated ego? Exploring the psychology of school bullies, or nerds, or whatever type character you do not relate to, opens up a world of potential character depth.
Consider the qualities you posses, and pass on to the characters of your stories. Are you able to provide unique personality to him/her? Do side characters become 3-dimensional or do they fall into a stereotype to fill in the blanks, or offset the main character?
I’ve found my own characters that unnerved me, or took a life of their own and took the story in different directions. I played with one story where the main protagonist ended up switching personalities with his nemesis, thereby becoming an ‘a-hole’ as one reviewer put it. It left me exploring more of the antagonist and how he struggles with a new found conscience.
It was tremendously fun to write the changes in characters.
What do you think; do you ‘head-hop’ and shift personalities, or do you find characters end up being shades of your self? Post in comments.