Tuesday, November 25, 2014

A Little Bit of Me

By R.J. Harlick

Do you reveal your values through your characters? If so, how?

I would find it difficult to write without putting some of myself into it. Like many writers when creating something out of nothing, I draw on my own experiences, my likes and dislikes, what I know and what I don’t know, my fears and my desires, even my dreams to help shape my characters and their stories.  

When you spend a lot of time with a series character, it’s hard not to put some of yourself in him or her. Meg Harris’s love of nature and the great outdoors is no different from my own. I gave her the kind of cottage I have dreamt about, a rambling Victorian timber cottage perched high on a granite point overlooking the sparkling waters of a northern lake.  I sent her to Canada’s far north and to Haida Gwaii, because these are places I wanted to visit.  And I had a great time while I was at it.

Meg likes to sit in her screen porch contemplating her lake view and life’s ups and downs. While I get much pleasure out of sitting in my own screen porch contemplating the nature around me, my mind is usually caught up in creating Meg’s world. Of course she loves dogs and funny thing has a standard poodle just like my own.  The only character in my books, by the way, actually based on a real live one.

Sometimes our characters become our voices.  Meg’s sense of fairness and the need to right injustice could be my own, except she is prepared to do something about it. I don’t always have the luxury. Perhaps that is my reason for creating Meg.

But don’t get me wrong. Although we share some similar characteristics, Meg is not me. I shake my head at some of the antics she gets up to and admire other actions she takes, ones I could never do. Because one of the ways you stretch yourself as a writer is by having your characters, say, do, even think things you wouldn’t and be people you aren't.

Only one month until Christmas. Enjoy your day.


Robin Spano said...

I like this post. And I like that Meg's poodle is based on yours. Do the two dogs have the same character traits and everything?

Susan C Shea said...

It would be so hard not to let some of ourselves leak into our characters, wouldn't it? And some of what we'd like to be. I got a jolt when I heard someone reading my first-person narrative in The King's Jar on the Audible version because she didn't sound like me (the voice in my head when I was writing)! But, as you say, our protagonists aren't us for many reasons. good post, thanks.

RJ Harlick said...

Thanks, Robin and Susan. And yup, most antics Meg's dog, Sergei, gets up to, have already been done by my own.