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Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Writing Tips

I don't know about you, but when I write my novels, I often put something of myself into various characters. It makes it easier to react 'realistically' to certain scenarios.
I came across this interesting little article in the other day regarding this subject, and thought I'd share it here.
Have you ever based a character on yourself? Writers are often advised to write what they know. What better way to write what you know than to make yourself part of the story?

Several best selling authors have based their main characters on themselves. Kathy Reichs, a forensic scientist, created the character Temperance Brennan, based on her life and career. Donald Harstad spent more than 20 years as a deputy sheriff in a rural Iowa county like his character Carl Houseman. Anne George based the mystery solving duo of Patricia Anne and Mary Alice in her "Southern Sisters" mysteries on herself and her cousin.

While Isaac Asimov is best known for writing science fiction, he wrote a series of short mystery stories, "The Tales of the Black Widowers" based on himself and several of his friends. The Black Widowers are a group of friends who meet once a month for dinner. Each month a different member brings a guest, and in exchange for his dinner, the guest must answer all questions posed by the members. Usually the Black Widowers help the guest solve a mystery or problem. The club is based on a real life group of authors known as the Trap Door Spiders, which included Asimov and several other well known authors.

If you think you and your life are not interesting enough to be part of a story, think again. You are the only person with the exact set of skills and knowledge that you have. Your experience may make you the only person in the world who can solve the mystery. In one of Mary Higgins Clark's novels, a fashion designer was instrumental in solving a mystery because of her knowledge of the victim's fashion sense. Because the victim was wearing a combination of clothing that the designer knew she would never (pun intended) *Smile* be caught dead in, the designer was able to determine that the killer had surprised her in her pyjamas at home, killed her, redressed her, and dumped the body somewhere else.

If you aren't comfortable creating a character who is your twin, try giving him or her one characteristic that is important to you. If you are a talented artist, cook, or seamstress, for example, try giving your character that ability. If possible, maybe the talent you share with your character could help them solve the mystery.

If you do base a character on yourself, don't make that character too perfect or protect them from negative consequences. The opinion of a good editor or reviewing partner will be extremely important if you identify closely with a character.
This is good advice, and I speak from experience. I employed certain facets of what's revealed here for my latest novel, the IX, and it paid off with bells on.
Why not try a little exercise?
In your current work, why not base a hero, villain,  minor character on yourself? You'll be surprised the depth it will add to your story. As I say, I tried that with the IX, and readers love many of the characters I created, simply because I put certain facets of my nature into goodies and baddies alike :)
Take a look at the IX'll see what I mean.

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