Posted by Heidi Yantzi at 22:02
It's been a concern of mine for years: writing characters that resemble me a little too closely!
Details like eye and hair colour, height, and other specific physical characteristics can distinguish me from my imaginary people, but what if I find my own words coming out of that mouth?
Maybe it's inevitable. These characters have been formed in my mind. Why wouldn't they act or think or look like me?
This is the kind of thing any writer needs a good group for. I asked my 4 Corners about this, because I was really freaked out that my protagonist, Nikki, was turning out like a rearranged version of Heidi. We both have spotted horses. We both teach riding lessons and do a bit of horse training. We've both been known to colour our hair. She has a musician boyfriend; I have a recording engineer husband. Differences? She has tattoos and I don't. Um...she loves to cook?
I honestly can't remember what my writer friends responded with (and I'm too lazy to go look it up) but I left that exchange with a sense of calm. The worry was lifted. My writer friends believe in me and trust that I can invent an entire novel.
I can trust readers to know that writers make things up.
It's fiction. It's all made up. It's all imaginary. For the most part, readers don't know me, and everything is new. The characters haven't solidified for them yet, and aren't based on anyone the reader is familiar with.
Isn't that the most exciting freedom?
My character has a story to tell, a story that might ring true for somebody reading it. I hope this character can have an impact, whether it's love or hate or bewilderment. She's not real, she's not me, but I want her to seem like she could be real. If certain aspects of her life are close to my own, it just means I'm writing what I know and won't make the kind of mistakes that lose readers.
I love my imaginary people and I love my writer friends!
Now back to work.