How connected are you to your characters?

I was having a fun discussion today with a friend, and wanted to hear other writer's thoughts on the subject. How connected are you to your characters? Do any pieces of their life spill over into yours? Do you have a same tattoo? Wear the same perfume, or maybe a piece of jewelry that your character has?

Is that kind of thing crazy? Going to far?

I'm really curious to hear your thoughts/stories on the matter.

Ohhh, I have a feeling that I'm going to love this thread. It sounds like fun. Every character I write has a piece of me in them, but yeah, there are times when I end up actively reflecting them.

In "Larkenia's Flaws", the priesthood of Thano has blue eyebrow piercings in honor of both their god and their vocation. After writing Larkenia for a little over a year, I screwed up my own courage and got one for myself. It was gorgeous, and I loved it, but I ended up having to take it out and let it grow closed because my new job wouldn't allow me to keep it. I do hope to get it re-pierced someday, though.

Another Larkenia example would be my family cat, Thanatos. We rescued him on New Years and named him Thanatos. After awhile, my family and I got lazy, and started calling him "Thano" for short.

Another example was getting a set of skeleton keys that resembled the keys embedded in the necks of my characters in one of my NaNos. Every time I look at them, I'm reminded of that story. :)

I'm sure I have more, but those are the ones that are jumping to mind atm.

I don't think that it's going too far, and I certainly don't think it's indicative of a mental illness. People buy jewelery and get tattoos for a variety of reasons, and I think getting them in honor of characters or a project that you've devoted time and energy towards for a long time, that you've sacrificed for, is at all odd.

Great examples! :) (I especially love the keys)

I only have one at the moment, in my story my character has a bracelet on his wrist that he uses to help access his magic. It is made of bones, with grave dirt filled beads in between. After thinking about it for months, I finally decided to recreate it to wear. I have been writing this character for over 8 years, I don't know what took me so long to do this. (This is what it looks like

I don't share jewelry with my characters, but they've shepherded me through tough times. Sometimes they're the only constants in a life that's moving too fast, and I turn to them when I am most in need of losing myself in another world. Some of them are older friends than any friends than my family.

Honestly, I'm not sure if the characters I write have influenced my life at all. I can pretty clearly see some bits of myself in them, but not much that's original to a character that migrated back.

I know that I've ended up reading about topics that characters would know more about than I do. As a result, I've read about areas of science I hadn't thought about in a while, and checked out things I really don't care about normally (specifically clothes/fashion, and sports seasons).

The thing is, I get distracted by random bits of knowledge normally. If anything, writing makes my acquisition of weird facts a little more organized.

Not so much outward signs for me, but I've occasionally picked up bits of dialogue from my characters, phrases that they like to use or words that aren't (or weren't!) part of my daily vocabulary.

And sometimes, writing lets you examine some of your own behaviour from somebody else's viewpoint. It has helped me to identify and moderate some of the aggressive elements of my personality.



My characters' problems have a tendency to be my own problems, since those are the problems I'm most familiar with. I can see a lot of myself in pretty much all of my characters, and each one is largely just a reference to a way I feel or a perspective/attitude I've exhibited in the past.

I don't really take on a lot of their characteristics or anything, though some of the things that happen or are said in my stories become private jokes between my husband and me. A lot of my characters contain some aspect or perceived aspect of me (this is how I think so-and-so sees me)--sometimes quite a small aspect, but it's there.

What's probably stranger than that is my tendency, sometimes, to write about a relationship similar to one I've had--in which neither character is really meant to be either "me" or the other person. It's just a similar tone somehow.


I tend to put something of myself into characters, to breath a bit of life in (hmm, damnit, and theres a short story idea. )

I do have a few characters that are the opposite, they put a little into me, but I'm not writing their stories currently. Waiting to get some more experience under my belt first.

Wow, this could be a story in and of itself, so I'll keep it short here and maybe play with the ideas on my blog. The short version: it's hard for me to separate myself from my writing, the line between reality and fantasy constantly blurs.

The first story I remember sharing with other people was in my grade one class, I got selected along with one or two other students to read it over the morning announcements. It featured me travelling back in time to meet a cave-man ancestor and an anachronistic dinosaur. So I've always been in my fiction.

I told myself stories all the time through my childhood, whether in writing, using Lego or G.I. Joes or other toys. Conflicts and arguments in real life spilled into the characters, and the solutions they came up with helped me in my life, which was interesting. Character types that lasted across years strangely showed up in real life in the personalities of my closest friends, like I had been planning the type of people I would want to one day associate with.

So when I sat down to write my first book, No Man an Island, those themes became central to the story. The stories the main character grows up reading play themselves out in his life, and character traits from stories show up in his friends. Given the interplay between reality and fiction in the story, I put a lot of my own life into that character to further blur the line and strengthen the theme, so it's semi-autobiographical.

In the case of Diggory Franklin, I think there's a lot less of "me" in the character's behaviour and choices, but there are some parallels. His father died in the story in 2008 and my father died in 2009, which I did not see coming and there was weird signs of the way it affected me in my writing -- two weeks before he died, when we all knew his time was short because of cancer, one of my characters said this : "I don't think anyone really 'adjusts' to the fact their parents are dead. They just cope." and that kind of prophesied how I would handle things. The first line I wrote in Diggory's story after the funeral was "I coped with my status as an orphan a little better each day." His handling the death of his parents (which started in 2008 remember) dovetailed with me handling my grief a year later.

I'm not really like Grif, the protagonist of Pay Me, Bug! He is, however, an ever-present voice in my head. I think he might be a personification of my Id. You know, if we were talking in Freudian terms.

ubersoft: that makes more sense than I probably should admit, because I feel the same way about Malachi.

I've noticed a LOT of writers, tend to have their characters as part of their mind. A little dissociative identity disorder seems par for the course with writing fiction.

With the wary addendum that my goal is not to babble endlessly about my own characters--I agree with the above post, as some of the conversations my characters have are conversations I have had with myself. Sumerset, in particular (from the Last Skull) is an ongoing voice of brutish, demanding reason, constantly knocking down my thoughts. While Bonesaw tends to be the part of me that just wants to throw up the middle fingers and tell everyone to 'fuck off'.

I am very fond of all my characters, and in the past have had characters I felt "connected" to to varying degrees (a couple of sneaky authorial self-inserts -- mea culpa! -- and an original roleplay character who I fell in love with).

Shockingly, I think I was much crueller to the characters I felt connected to than the characters I was simply fond of. Masochism? Probably. *G* I think if you love a character and then make them suffer, then you write the suffering more authentically because you're upset about having to do it to them!

Oh! It is not just me that tortures the ones she loves? Thank god.

I worry that my characters are too much like me. That someone will say "Hey that's just John, only taller. Or red-haired. Or female. He put himself in the story."

Obviously putting yourself in the story is OK, if that's your intention.

But I dread accidentally writing a "Mary Sue" character.

On that subject, one of my favorite examples of Mary Sue happened in the Simpsons.

Marge writes a historical romance, and the main character's name changes to her name for 15 pages.

John, i have to work VERY hard to keep them all from talking like me. Beyond that, I see any aspects of myself that slip in, as, well, a good thing.

in 6 novels, I start the one where I AM the main character, but I'm going to treat me like such shit, no one who knows me will believe its supposed to me. Heh.

@Adenpenn, absolutely not, LOL. We writers seem to be invariably cruel to our babies.

I am another one who cannot resist slipping myself into the story. I never use main characters though; instead there will be a side- or minor-character who is totally just me in disguise. They're usually very low-key though, so I doubt anyone except me would realise. But hey, I write fantasy, and what fun would it be if I couldn't sneak off to these fabulous other worlds myself??

Kat and I both have the same style and caliber firearm (1911, .45-caliber).

'Cept she has two of them.