Is the Main Character You?

As I’ve mentioned before on this blog, my first novel will be out in July, 2014. It’s called Secrets of Hallstead House and the main character’s name is Macy Stoddard. Once in a while someone will ask me if Macy, or any of the other characters, is based on a real person. The short answer is no.

But it’s more complicated than that. There are parts of Macy that resemble me and parts of her that are my opposite. For example, she has brown hair. I have brown hair as long as I’ve been to the hairdresser recently. She is a caregiver, like me. I’m not a nurse, but taking care of people is what I love to do. Macy discovers a love of the Saint Lawrence River. I loved the River practically from birth. On the other hand, Macy can’t swim. I love to swim, and I’ve passed that love along to all of my kids. She hates boats; I love boats. She’s brave, whereas I probably would have left the island at the first sign of danger.

That’s one of the many fun things about writing fiction. A writer gets to make each person exactly the way she wants. Not a perfect person, but one that’s perfect for her purposes. A writer can imagine what a person looks like, and POOF, that’s the way the person looks. If a writer needs a bad guy, she doesn’t have to go looking for one. She makes him up. Need an interesting place to hide a body? Just give a writer a sec…she’ll come up with something.

There are lots of great places to come up with story ideas, too, not just characters. Sometimes ideas come from the headlines. Sometimes from a tiny blurb in a newspaper. Sometimes from an obituary. Ideas can come from going on vacation and passing an abandoned house and asking yourself, “What if…?” Ideas can come from dreams. Or nightmares. Or an overheard conversation. It’s fun to make stuff up. As a fiction writer, I take the world as it is and add people and problems from my imagination. I think fantasy writers must have a tough job. They not only have to make up their people and their stories, but they have to make up the whole world, too. Now that requires imagination.

But here’s something else that’s fun: I may have a picture in my mind of what my main character looks like, but if that’s different from the picture in the reader’s mind, that’s okay. All I need as the writer is my picture. The same goes for the setting. I may have a very specific idea of what a place looks like, but it’s totally fine if the reader has a different picture. That’s what makes books so much better than movies, but that’s a post for a different day.

I’d love to hear about some of your favorite fictional characters. I’ll start. I’ve had lots of favorites, but at the moment, my favorite fictional character is Hamish Macbeth. He’s the main character in a series of books by M.C. Beaton. He’s a police constable, tall and lanky with bright red hair. And I love to picture the area of Scotland where he patrols. Anyone else read these books?

Until next week,

Amy

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5 comments on “Is the Main Character You?

  1. I look forward to reading your book Amy! Hmm….characters….I think all of them have some aspect of my personality in one form or another. I do picture what they look like in my head – sometimes they are based on someone I know, passed in the street one day, or are in my favorite t.v. show. It helps me write…picturing the character(s), how they look, act, or what they will say in any given moment. I don’t know if I have a favorite fictional character, but whenever I read something, I do try and picture what the character looks like. I then need to erase that from my mind if the book is made into a movie and the actor or actress playing the part does not fit what I imagined!

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    • amreade says:

      It does help to have a picture in my mind of what a character looks like. Next week my post is going to be about the ways books change when they’re made into movies…stay tuned!
      Thanks for stopping by and leaving your input!!

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  2. Rebecca H. says:

    Well said, Amy. I cannot wait until your book comes out, I’m so excited! I usually just mix and match my character’s looks. But my character’s personality usually comes from part of me, like the attitude, and then parts of them come from my friends, and people in movies. And what you said about how if a writer needs a place to hide a body… just ask Siri, on the iPhone. She’ll come up with many ideas. Haha! Anyway, nice post!

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    • amreade says:

      Hi, Rebecca,
      Thanks for stopping by! I’m excited for my book to come out, too! Mixing and matching is the fun of making up fictional characters. They only have to exist in your mind in order to exist on the page, and they only have to have the qualities you want as the author. I love every minute of it!!

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