There's no end
to the things you might know, depending how far beyond Zebra you go! {Dr. Seuss}

Friday, August 5, 2011

Is There Too Much Nonfiction in Your Fiction?

Does your character dislike morning just like you? Make her an early bird instead, delighting in the morning dew on her barefeet when she gets the paper.
Does your novel’s grandma have a wardrobe overflowing with pastel colors exactly like your real grandma? Now fill fiction granny’s wardrobe with only black, white, and turquoise. 
Does your character remember a teddy bear just like you had when you were a child? Make him remember an attachment to his dead sister’s favorite baby doll instead.
Is the male protagonist in your book a veterinarian just like the dream man in your life? So make him be an acrobat in Cirque du Soleil.
Are your characters too similar to yourself and the people you know? Is your fiction reading too much like nonfiction? Do what’s done in the business world: amalgamate. Merge to form a unique, dominating structure. Find something special about each of your most favorite (or least favorite) people in the world and create brand new, never-before-imagined characters.
Have some fun! You’re a creative writer, aren’t you? I can imagine a lot more interesting things than who I am, thank goodness! I know you’re all super interesting, way more interesting than I am, but I’m sure you can imagine something else beyond what you already know, too! 
How much of yourself and the people you know are in your novels? Have you thought about mixing things up?
Have a happy weekend, Zigzaggers!!!


Laura Pauling said...

That's a tough question. I'm not sure. I don't know if I could have a character ever love mushroom or beets b/c I've never eaten them and never will! :)

Saumya said...

Ah, I felt SO guilty of this during my first draft. I made sure my character had a different family and relationship dynamic to make sure she didn't seem too much like me. This is such a great post. Another reason why you're the perfect critique partner!! You always pick these important things out.

Matthew MacNish said...

All my characters are at least loosely based on me, or at least part of me, even the girls, but I still make them have other aspects that are nothing like me. Or at least I try.

Bluestocking said...

Hmm. Usually when I write, I get a better handle on my characters when I ask myself what would I do in this situation or how would I feel. But as to borrowing actually character traits or descriptions, I tend to borrow more widely from not only myself but the other people in my life.

L. Diane Wolfe said...

When I first began my series, yes - there was a lot of me in some of the characters. I pulled away from that by the third book, but I still used locations and items I remembered from my past in the stories.

li said...

Funny! I deliberately try NOT to include any of myself in my writing. (I'm sure I fail on occasion.) Maybe I should try the opposite tack and model a character on myself for a change. But then, it would be how I view myself, not necessarily how others view me, or how I appear to them. :(( So who is the real me? Now I feel confused and have a headache. **Phones therapist**

Jemi Fraser said...

Good question! I think I put a few personality traits of me/people I know in books, but nothing too obvious :)

Laura Marcella said...

Laura- LoL, then it might be fun to make an unusual character love those often hated veges!

Saumya- Awww, thanks! I know it can be hard sometimes not to put ourselves in our stories.

Matthew- That's interesting! My characters are so unlike me, LoL.

Bluestocking- Asking yourself how you might respond is a little different than giving a character your same traits and likes and dislikes. I borrow from people I know or observe too.

Diane- I borrow a lot of landmarks and features from where I lived too. That's a lot easier than having to travel somewhere new for research!

Li- LoL! I don't make my characters like me either. I'm so boring and lame; I can make up much more dynamic features and qualities and traits!

Jemi- It's important not to be too obvious! We don't want to hurt anyone's feelings...unless we're getting revenge on someone like a mean critic, LoL!!!

Madeleine said...

A good point Laura. Most of my characters are a mix of several people. You are right that the details are important, though I have found that my most successful pieces are those based on reality. :O)

Laura Marcella said...

Madeleine- That's a good point. And almost anything you can imagine in terms of character traits is probably true somewhere!

Jolene Perry said...

I'm going to vote for Jen Daiker's quote, lol.

LOVE her :D