Everyone who writes is guilty of this. It isn’t bad, of course. We can relate better and work better with a character we know, who is derived from ourselves. But even if we strive to avoid putting too much of ourselves into our characters, it still happens, and it comes as a big shock when we notice.
For example, the main characters of my three main muses are Sage, from OtArb, Aisling, from Changeling, and Caitlyn, from Purity. Sage, despite being male, is very much like me – or at least, he certainly was when I created him a few years ago. Generally pretty quiet, a little awkward, agnostic, and something of an insomniac. He represents my solitary side, and I’m fully aware of it. It’s similar with Caitlyn. She’s more of my goofier side, with immature jokes and a girlier nature.
But Aisling? No.
I created Aisling without meaning to put any of myself in her. She’s got an uncomfortable past that completely jaded her, she’s unnecessarily cruel and more than a little cynical.
And just in the past few weeks, I got a startling slap in the face as my subconscious and consciousness finally linked and said HEY, LOOK! SIMILARITIES!
Aisling hates affection. It just generally makes her uncomfortable. Two characters often remark about how she’d be liable to tear down a castle if she heard that someone loved her. This never occurred to me as something odd until recently. When exes in the past told me they loved me, they’d done it first and I’d been shocked by it. I had automatically replied in the same, which ended up being lies because I hadn’t been ready.
I’ll overthink it, think of a super romantic setting in which I could say it back, and then when the time comes, clam up and say nothing and feel cold. I think that part of me broke at some point. Even when my parents tell me they love me, I just say “You too.” Basically, I am Aisling, in that small part.
It’s funny how that happens, though, isn’t it? Even when we don’t mean it, we subconsciously insert small portions of ourselves into the characters we create. I knowingly created Sage and Caitlyn in my image, and was startled when a prominent part of me popped up in Aisling’s temperament.
Has that happened to anyone else? It can’t just be me who’s been surprised by how a character ends up developing.