Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Just Another Part of Me Or Another Part of You?

I just know that C.J. is getting a hoot out of this week’s topic – which of my characters do I identify with the most?

Why will she be laughing at a man who just celebrated the 19th anniversary of his 25th birthday last week?

Because she knows that I tend to put a little of myself into each of my protagonist hero/anti-hero characters.Okay, maybe more than a little.

Check out Devin Calloway in They Call the Wind Muryah, Cantrell Ryker in Hunters, Lassiter Shane from My Dear, Mr. Shane or Devereaux Marshall Fox in Land of the Blind.

You’ll read those books or novellas and think “this Greg Smith guy puts himself into every book of his, like he’s Spike Lee or something.”

The psychologists among Wicked Writers’ fan base might call this slightly narcissistic. I prefer to call it laziness (I guess some of them could have birth dates other than 4/25/67). Maybe that is bad for the reader since, as I’ve stated before, my female characters tend to resemble the likes of Michelle Rodriguez, Angela Bassett, Lucy Liu or Gina Gershon.

And, truthfully, I’m not really at all like those characters of mine. They’re just another part of me, a part that might represent me on a darker day if I didn’t have self-control or me on a day that will, more than likely, never come (such as me picking up Gina Gershon in a bar; Lindsay Lohan, yes, but Gina, no).

All of this has gotten me thinking again (I know it’s dangerous, but I have to do it from time to time to release the pressure not alleviated by watching Jeopardy).

What about you, the reader?

What draws you to the characters of us, the writers?

Do you just have this hankering to follow the adventures of Alex Cross and only Alex Cross? Could you find some of yourself in Dirk Pitt or Jason Bourne?

What is it about Honor Harrington that draws so many readers who normally read science fiction for the heroes and not the heroines? Will those readers broaden their horizons and find comfort with the heroines of Elizabeth Moon or the late Marion Zimmer Bradley? Could they handle not only Anita Blake, Vampire Hunter but Morgaine, the White Witch as well?

While I can talk all day about what parts of myself are represented best by Cantrell Ryker or Devereaux Marshall Fox or Pegram Kimble, it really wouldn’t matter to the reader.

What matters more to the reader is what characters they can identify with most. That is ultimately what will draw them to us writers, giving us that foot in the door. It won’t guarantee that the foot is not withdrawn should the reader find our characters the only interesting thing in the tome, meaning we must write well enough to keep the reader.

At that point, we can pretend to be our characters walking to the bookstore, pen in hand, for yet another crowded book-signing.


  1. "Lindsay Lohan, yes." LOL!! She has been making a bad name for herself lately. hasn't she? hell, if you want to tie one on that badly, freakin' stay home and do it you idjit!

    You write well enough, my friend. We just need to get your works out to a broader audience! Then, you'll be at that crowded book signing.

  2. Thanks and don't be offended if I don't shake hands (idjit).

  3. As someone who's been a reader far longer than a writer, I will say that when I go to an author's website and read about them, I'm more likely to follow them around if I have things in common with the person. I think, on an unconscious level, that I feel like if we have stuff in common, then that author is likely to keep writing about things I care about. Or with a style/voice that I like.

    Anyway, if they like your characters then realize they like you too, you're pretty much set.

  4. I agree. But, when I was much younger, I thought it was the style of writing that most interested readers, such as lots of action or suspense. Now, after reading series like the Bourne books and The Lord of the Rings, I've learned it is the characters.

    I started changing my writing to reflect that back in the 90s.