I have often wondered about this after reading that many writers have based their main character on themselves. This is especially true for first books apparently!
This is a case in point for my first book, Jenna’s Journey, as I originally conceived the idea whilst wondering how my life would have been different if I’d stayed in Greece instead of returning to the UK. Of course, what happens to Jenna is pure fiction, but I must admit to there being a lot of me in her. To begin with, she’s a language teacher, she enjoys writing, and she can be a bit of a dreamer, but is stronger than she looks. It’s clear that I’ve based a lot of her background on my own, but I think that is where any similarity ends.
The book is set nearly thirty years ago, so of course when I look back, Jenna is slim and beautiful with reddish brown hair. That description could not possibly apply to me even with the lapse of so many years, so I’ve obviously created an image of the person I might have liked to be.
I hadn’t really thought about Jenna as having a similar character to me, however, until I read a recent review. It wasn’t a very good one, I’m sad to say, yet there was something that really struck me. This particular critic said something along the lines of not being able to take any more of the ‘dippy Jenna’. Now I’d never really thought about it before, as I hadn’t imagined her as being particularly dippy. Perhaps the critic could see into her character far deeper than me, the author, as I often refer to myself as being dippy as well as having a dippy cat! This is not an adjective I hear being used all that often, so the coincidence struck me. Even though the critic didn’t particularly like my protagonist, I take heart from the fact that I have created a character who is believable to other people outside my head.
Thank heavens for poetic license is all I can say, as I’m sure my readers wouldn’t have much empathy for a short, curvy heroine with mousey brown hair. I’d like to think it shouldn’t make any difference, but of course it does as readers generally want to escape into a world where the heroine is beautiful and gets her man.
It would be interesting to see if we can overcome these stereotypes, although I’m not sure the world is ready for a heroine based on yours truly just yet.
So, in my case, even if I hadn’t deliberately set out to create a heroine based on myself – it sounds a bit narcissistic to aim to do so – I wonder how many writers, hand on heart, can say that their protagonist doesn’t contain just a teeny tiny part of themselves – an edited version naturally!
Please tell me it’s not just me!
AS A #WRITER, HOW MUCH OF YOURSELF IS IN YOUR MC? by @julieryan18 http://goo.gl/AUDGvF #TheArtistUnleashed #IndieAuthor #selfpublishing
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She is the author of two novels set in Greece, “Jenna’s Journey” and “Sophia’s Secret” both part of the Greek Island Mystery series. She is currently working on a third book, ‘Pandora’s Prophecy.”
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