Originally, I intended to lampoon the Dr. Seuss kerfuffle, in support of one of the greatest children’s writers of all time. But the desire to pen witty or clever repartee evaporated with the lunacy of Las Vegas. This succinctly sums up my thoughts:
“Unless someone like you cares a whole awful lot,
Nothing is going to get better. It’s not.”
Dr. Seuss, The Lorax
So much for old, tired clichés.
Have you ever slipped any of your personal information into your characters, either by accident or on purpose?
Yes and yes.
On the intentional front, my protagonist is a lawyer and a runner (what? me too!). She also has some difficult family relationships (don’t we all). Some of her thoughts and reactions mirror my own. But sometimes she says and does things I wish I had said or done. A Freudian attempt to rewrite history, perhaps? I give the MC traits that don’t require an extraordinary amount of research, and still allow her to develop an individual persona.
Personal information is more likely to make its way ineffectively into other characters unintentionally, particularly when I attempt to comprehend motivation. For example, my antagonist is a serial killer. I will end the suspense to the burning question many people have asked and confess: No, I was not the inspiration for Serial Mom (but seriously, Beverly was right: NO white shoes after Labor Day!). I don’t understand the mental state of a person who repeatedly kills. I have trouble divorcing myself from the pesky moral conscience that keeps most of us from engaging in and enjoying this behavior.
I populate my antagonist with unique personal information (meaning, not mine), gathered through industry research, such as Into the Minds of Madmen and craft books like The Writer’s Guide to Character Traits and Thesaurus series. I also have a well-worn copy of The Sociopath Next Door on my bookshelf (which, IMHO, should be required reading from about the third grade on) to get psyche details correct.
That said, I suspect, and perhaps hope, that all my characters possess a bit of my humanity, however dark, in their souls. The God complex – yet another task for Freud. Or a glass of Pinot Noir. One of those.
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