Tuesday, February 26, 2013

I Robot

I'm always been fascinated by the diversity of reader tastes. One thing considered a huge flaw by one person is admired by another. Someone could read a story and come away feeling like the protagonist was too bright and cheery. Another person could read this same story and decide that the protagonist was aggressive and callous. Maybe they're both right and the character was subliminally bipolar.

That story appreciation differs from person to person isn't anything new, but how often do we stop to consider how much of ourselves and our life experiences affect whether or not we like the protagonist?

This also applies to writing: how much of our experiences or personalities influence the characters that we create?

Take me. My protagonists do things that I never would. Their choices and their actions and even their thoughts are often so radically different from mine that it surprises me sometimes. I also wonder if I get satisfaction from having them do all of the things I normally wouldn't.

Be free, little character! Have fun for the both of us!

But recently, a friend of mine pointed out something about my characters. Something that's been bothering her for a while, but she couldn't exactly pinpoint. Until we began collaborating on a fun little project called Halfway Ether and she suddenly realized what that was.

Your protagonists lack warmth, she said ever so helpfully.

Stunned doesn't begin to cover my reaction. My protagonists lack warmth? Have I been writing cold, emotionless robots this entire time?

"I love you from the bottom of my circuits. Beep Bop Boop."

Then I realized she's right. As vastly different as one protagonist might be from another, in terms of their thoughts and their expression of thought, they all have a certain emotional distance. They are the type who will smile instead of jumping around gleefully when something glee-inducing happens, who will get angry when they are worried or scared, who will say "I'm fine" instead of pouring out their troubled hearts to friends and strangers alike.

They are, in essence, me.

"Beep Bo--wait, I'm the author? Didn't see that twist coming."

Of course, there have only been two protagonists thus far (and their circumstances and upbringing necessitate a little toughness), but hearing this has made me shockingly aware of how true it is. It's not a bad thing. I don't believe it is. I don't think there is anything wrong with a girl who dances around her bedroom on a whim, or one who fights demons without batting an eye.

But learning this about myself--it changes so much. It has given me new perspective, and I've grown just a little bit more as a writer.

And growth is invaluable to a writer.


  1. Yeah I totally agree with you when reading a story I feel as if I get to know a little about the author

  2. That's so true! Characters always have an aspect of their author in them !

    1. I think so too! Thanks for sharing!

  3. I think it depends on the story and how developed you are as a writer, but most of the time, yes, writers do put part of themselves into their stories and characters. But in a way, that's also how you recognize their individual writing style! Great post, Hope : )