Wednesday, October 4, 2017

IWSG: Let's Get Personal


Got a question about writing, publishing or editing? The Insecure Writer's Support Group is the best support group around for writers. You don't even have to be insecure--but it's okay if you are! Sign up at this LINK, then post anything writing related on the first Wednesday of every month. Not sure what to post? There is a prompt question you can answer if you don't want to post your own insecurity. 

Many thanks to our host Alex Cavanaugh and his awesome co-hosts for the October 4 posting of the IWSG are Olga Godim, Chemist Ken, Jennifer Hawes, and Tamara Narayan!


This month's question is: Have you ever slipped any of your personal information into your characters, either by accident or on purpose?

Answer: Yes. Not on purpose though. I only realized later...

My teen character Indigo Eady was orphaned at sixteen years old. She went to live with her uncle in England, bringing with her only a trunk of her belongings, nothing more. On an intellectual level, she knew her father was dead, she didn't deny it. She just didn't talk about it. And if she didn't unpack her trunk, then his death wasn't quite permanent or as painful. So she refused to unpack the trunk. She took things out as she needed them and then put them back. Her bedroom, unlike most teenager's, was bare (or empty). Sort of a metaphor for the situation she found herself in. (Before this gets maudlin, I offset the situation with humor when the ghost of Franny, a former Victorian madam of some repute, had formed an attachment to Indigo, so she'd unpack the trunk at every turn and forced Indigo to face her reality). 

And how does this relate to me? I'm not an orphan. But I noticed that there is a correlation between my character's physical trunk and my metaphorical trunk where I keep some of my personal "things". Sometimes I pull these things out to examine them, but then tuck them back into the trunk and gently close the lid. At one time I would have said "shove" these things to the bottom of the trunk, cover that stuff up, and "slam" the lid hard. But with time comes perspective, and perspective brings healing.  

Everyone has a "trunk". It's impossible to go through life without one. Some people have more in their trunks than others. Items in the trunk change or become less significant than they once were and you don't need to slam down the lid anymore. You might even leave the lid open because you no longer care who sees what's inside.  

These behaviors are all part of the human condition. As writers we tap into it all the time. It's what connects us as human beings. When we can relate to our readers, it's why they buy our books. Because we've touched on something they can understand and relate to. 


What about you?

Do you slip personal aspects of yourself into your characters? 

33 comments:

  1. How interesting about your internal trunk. I put bits of myself and people I know or observe into my characters. It's hard not to because it's what wee know.

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    1. I agree, Natalie. We view the world through our own eyes and our own perspectives, so of course these things get transferred tot he page when we're writing. Not necessarily our own attributes, but aspects of human behavior we've seen in others as well.

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  2. Some people's trunks are just bigger than others. But we all have that emotional baggage.

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    1. I used to have a huge trunk, Alex. It's magically growing smaller :)

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  3. I don't like to look at my internal trunk. :D Too many ghosts!

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    1. I've got a few things in mine that I don't like to look at too closely, Maria.

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  4. I love that! Everyone does have a trunk. I slip some of me into my characters. Sometimes when I don't even realize it!

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    1. I think we all slip parts of ourselves in, Christine. But mostly not, LOL, I'm way too anti-social and introverted.

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  5. I love the idea of everyone having that internal trunk. The lid's definitely closed and locked on mine. Can't risk anyone seeing inside... :)

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    1. LOL. I have a locked trunk too. Good writing fodder that will never see the light of day ;)

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  6. That's amazing you would write a literal trunk for your own personal trunk. That you can take some stuff out now shows you're growing.

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    1. It's a cool metaphor that everyone can understand. I know I'm growing. I also know that I have more work to do on it. That's life!

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  7. I love the metaphor you used - I loved it in the book when I read it, but I don't think I ever commented on it. Emotional truths come across stronger than I-actually-did-the-same-thing kind of truths in books. I have had people guess or assume that I'm the same as a few of my main characters and I find that weird. I don't think of myself as any of my characters ... well, maybe a little like one secondary character which turned out to be a reader favorite (and who I am not naming), but no one ever thinks that about her. I guess I keep some of my own trunk issues locked down enough that only those closest to me see them. (My husband immediately knew which character was most like me in one of my books, but he didn't tell anyone.)

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    1. This comment has been removed by the author.

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    2. Agh. I just re-read my comment and it sounds braggy. My "more like me" character was just not as nice as the MC, which oddly made her more interesting to some readers.

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    3. I don't think any of my characters are anything like me. Except (LOL) the unpacked trunk hits pretty close to home. As does the empty room--still figuring that one out.

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  8. Tyrean, LOL, I didn't get "braggy" from your comment at all. :D

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  9. What a great metaphor! Everyone does have a personal trunk. I have a literal one too. I probably should go through what's in there at some point. Heh.

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  10. I think that having a trunk like that is what helps us out as writers. We can pull things out of that trunk that we'd never think of on our own.

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    1. Oh, all kinds of stuff is in that trunk, Ken. Lots of good writing fodder, for sure.

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  11. I keep my truck closed and use x-ray vision to sort through the contents else I can't write. But yeah, emotions definitely affect my writing and find their way in. Great post. Juneta @ Writer's Gambit

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    1. LOL, the problem with that is that the stuff is still in that trunk, even if you're using x-ray vision.

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  12. I truly believe all writer's put a little bit of ourselves and others that we've studied in our stories. It seems almost impossible not to. Especially our emotions, good, bad, and ugly.

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    1. Yep, we draw on our own experience, whether is first, second or third hand.

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  13. I love the metaphor of the trunk and life, so true that we all have one and with time it's easier to let things come out.

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    1. Thanks, Kathryn. Mine gets smaller and lighter as I get older. Life's too short to hang on to the junk that isn't helping you.

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  14. That is a really good example of all those things we know are there but try not to think about. I agree, we all have them.

    Anne from annehiga.com

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    1. We all have baggage that we don't need stowed somewhere. Sometimes you have sift through it and get rid of stuff.

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  15. Ooh, great metaphor. It's definitely something everyone can relate to. (I try to throw my own trunk out the window sometimes, but it always bounces off and hits me in the head, LOL.) Very cool how you turned this metaphor into something more literal for your series!

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    1. LOL, Heather. Stuff does come back to bite us, doesn't it?

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  16. Is it possible to NOT include real-life elements in one’s fiction?
    I’m sure there’s always an overlap of sort...whether deliberate or accidental...
    If I can, I avoid digging too deeply into my 'trunk'...

    I remember Indigo Eady... such a distinct character.
    Happy October, Gwen!

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    1. All kinds of junk in the trunk, Michelle! Glad you like Indigo :)

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