Wednesday, October 6, 2010


Writers & their characters.

It's a topic that's probably been talked, written and blogged to death already, but still worth exploring. And that is, how much do our characters resemble their authors? Come on now, in all honesty, can you emphatically state that your main character has none of your traits, thoughts, or desires? Zero? Nada? Zilch?

The thought came to me while walking this morning and encountering yet another dog walker whose pooch bore a strong resemblance to him. The pooch in question was a large pug; I leave the owner's description to your vivid imagination. Ok, so it's a bit of a stretch over to authors and characters but that's where my thoughts were by the time I reached home.

I must admit my sleuth, Lizzie Turner has the same snacking habits/problems, dislikes such as cooking, and, low and behold, she also bought the same car I drive. Smart cookie! (She could at least have chosen a different colour though.) I'm sure our thoughts about the opposite sex overlap from time to time. However, she is a much smarter dresser than I. (Perhaps she can teach me a thing or two!)

It's important to have well-rounded characters, so why not endow them with likes and dislikes we know well? I would want to distance myself from my character only if she/he were a serial killer or someone equally un-sympathetic, like a politician. In these cases, creativity and imagination combine to produce fiction.

Where it gets really interesting, is when colleagues, friends or family start believing one of the characters is based on them.

So, there you have my Lizzie/Linda character. What's happening with yours? How often does your life intersect your characters?

Linda Wiken/Erika Chase


  1. Love the pics! Funny, I'm blogging about this on Meanderings and Muses next week essentially wondering why my new series character Cedric Elvis O'Toole (I kid you not) in my Rapid Reads book is the exact opposite in almost every way from Mike Green. We real people are very complex and contradictory, so we have lots of characters inside ourselves. They all want a voice.

  2. my "character" Laura Winslow, obviously a woman, had traits all her own and not mine - e.g., in the first 4 books, she was a Ritalin addict, the next 3, a recovering Ritalin addict, more to the point, she had a full head of hair (l love writing about women's hair), i of course have little - but i did shoehorn my own personality into the various men, good and bad, that circulated around Laura - in novel #8, in progress, my character is a guy and so far his likes and dislikes are quite separate from mine - now that Linda has planted this seed of characters taking on my own things, i wonder where i'll go???

  3. Funny you should say that. When a body was discovered in a green triangle at tip of our neighbourhood, five (!!!) people either called me or asked me what Camilla MacPhee was planning to do about it!

    The cops sent Camilla on her way (natch) and the case is still, ahem, unsolved.


  4. Some of my friends assume that the main female character in "Revenge of the Lobster Lover" is me. I tried not to let that happen. I made her tall, with red curly hair. I am short with blonde straight (until recently) hair. My hair just went curly in the last year -- some product of old age. The character Hy McAllister has some traits similar to mine, but so does the woman she tries to help -- the Lobster Lover. The rest of the characters are simply their own, fictional people-- except for one, modelled on a great old friend of mine, who I hope won't mind. I agree that when we're creating "real" characters, we're bound to use our own likes, dislikes and habits.

  5. What different characters we all write...which is a good thing.
    How true, Barbara...good luck with Cedric. (Love the name)
    Where indeed, David?
    MJ -- those cops will have to learn about Camilla & her ways.
    Hilary --you're absolutely right about how we go about creating real characters.