So, fiction is supposed to be about living different lives, looking through different eyes, sometimes at different worlds or different versions of our world, right?
There’s this tendency when writing fiction, though, where a lot of authors write themselves directly into their book. Not just bits and pieces of themselves, but their whole self in one character.
And, unless it’s fan fiction, that’s bad. For a lot of reasons.
Now, don’t get me wrong, use parts of your life, parts of yourself. have at it. I do it, all the time. I give one character my favorite color, and another drives a car like mine. One gets my anger, and another feels my guilt. Some get an experience that I’ve gone through, though I always tweak them (either amping them up or cooling them to a simmer) to make it fit the story and/or world.
Basically, you want one of your characters to have dealt with a certain bad experience from your past because you went through it, and thus understand it?
Cool. That character has a good chance of seeming genuine, because you know the emotions they would experience, to a degree (They may have a different personality, and thus may cope differently.).
But don’t also make that character look just like you, and act just like you, and think like you…and have a name that’s a thinly veiled variation of your name (or middle name).
When you’re writing for the sake of wish fulfillment, a lot of times, the story is sacrificed for the sake of…getting what you want. Things get twisted, and moved around, and massaged into place, all for the sake of getting the personal satisfaction that the author wants.
That isn’t what writing is about, necessarily. Yes, there is satisfaction in a good story, but…the story comes first. The story should always come first.
And fiction has to make sense. It has to be believable, and relatable…to more than one person.
Another problem with wish fulfillment in writing (because fuck smooth topic segues) is that it breeds a lack of diversity. If all your main characters are exactly like you…well, that’s pretty much the exact opposite of diversity.
If you always write about a short white girl because you’re a short white girl, or always write about a tall black man because you’re a tall black man…you’re not really stretching yourself. If you always write straight characters, or always write gay characters, because that’s what you are…then you’re not looking at the world through different eyes.
If you do that, over and over, your stuff is going to be boring as fuck. You don’t want that. Your readers don’t want that.
Side note…not all of your characters are going to logically be the same race/gender/sexuality as your main character. Mix that shit up. Common sense. There are a lot of different types of people.
Those differences lead to conflict and (eventual) resolution. You know, that thing that’s essential to a good story.
Anyway, back to wish fulfillment. Where was I?
When you write stuff that obviously falls into this category, you’ll probably get some crap for it. “Oh, he wrote about a character that looks just like him, and sounds just like him, and the character just went around hooking up with all these girls who were just hovering on the brink of being legal…God, he’s a perv…”
Do you really want that? (The backlash, not the hook up thing.)
No. No one wants their book to be mocked. We want our books to be well-received. (Perhaps even loved.)
And what if people don’t realize it’s wish fulfillment, and bash on your character? What if they call him/her boring or weak? Or worse, an over-inflated side character? It’s going to hurt. You’re going to be super attached, and get your feelings hurt, because…that’s you.
Don’t get me wrong. I’m sure you’re all awesome in your own way. But blatant wish fulfillment tends to…not always be well thought out. But I don’t want every book I read to have the exact same main character…
Sometimes, this beast takes the form of a super character. An idealized, perfect person, with no flaws and no problems. Which instantly loses all relatability.
And then, that brings us back to the whole…boring thing. If the character has no flaws or problems, then what’s the point of the story? They’re not struggling with any major problem.
It just becomes the tedious march toward death that we all live every single day.
And, let me tell you, I ain’t about to read four hundred pages of some perfect bitch living a perfect life.
Now, I’m not going to lie to you. I have tropes that I enjoy writing and reading. Outcasts/underdogs. Strong female leads. Battle-worn and downtrodden, but rising to the occasion. Self-sacrificing hero types (even better if they realize what they’re doing, and see the shit they bring upon themselves by always playing hero).
And, yeah, I refuse to write a damsel in distress (unless she were to rise to the occasion later on), or a slutty brat, or a stereotypical jock as my main character.
But avoiding/preferring certain tropes is different. If you like your leading ladies to be delicate, wilting-flower types, write the shit out of them!
But don’t write yourself as them.
Give them a trait or two that you possess, then make up the rest of their lives and personalities from scratch.
Get creative with it, and have some fun.
Now, I’ll step off my soap box…Lol.
So, anyway…I’m about halfway through my edit of The Gem of Meruna. At work, after building out (a.k.a. I built the amount of tires I’m supposed to build in the entire shift before the end of the shift, and thus could sit in the cafeteria), I started editing Soul Bearer.
That one will be the next release! I’m so fucking excited to get it out for you guys to read.
I’ll be doing a challenge on IG and FB (challenge set forth by World Indie Warriors) in July, wherein I’ll begin talking about the story, introducing characters, sharing a couple scenes, etc.
So, if you’re curious about my upcoming fantasy romance novel, or want writing memes (I’ve been posting a lot of those lately for some reason), follow me on IG or FB. Links below.
If you’re a fellow indie writer, check out World Indie Warriors. It’s still new, but there are a lot of plans in the works. You can participate in the July challenge with us, and, by doing so, be entered to win a box of goodies, including some signed books!
Anyway, I’ve talked your ears off (or typed your eyes out) long enough.
Keep reading. Keep writing.