Ouch

I had a fairly uncomfortable realization today, and it got me thinking.

See, there are “issues” popping up in my books. Themes. Recognizable themes, corresponding directly to “issues” I happen to be going through on my own.

So does this happen to you? Do you see anything your characters struggle with that speaks to your growth, your pain, your joy?

Do you see anything your characters struggle with that speaks to your growth, your pain, your joy?

While you muse over that question, here are some useful links.

Some thoughts on racial diversity in fantasy, by author Cindy Pon. Some excellent advice on rewriting/editing by  author K. M. Weiland. A little note on stylistic repetition by agent Nathan Bransford. An absolutely awesome video  from agent Kristin Nelson condensing cover design to 2 minutes. So worth the watch. Author Maureen Johnson’s fascinating (and painful) read on how (not) to write an author, complete with bizarre sample. (Lemme tell ya, that librarian is going to HATE my book when it comes out. Whenever that happens.)

And last but not least, a fantastic and encouraging comic from Inkygirl. SOMEDAY,

By Debbie Ohi: https://www.flickr.com/photos/debbieohi/374968507/
THE ACCEPTANCE LETTER by Debbie Ridpath Ohi

Now you can answer that question. 😀 (Not to mention the corollary: is it necessary to have experienced some version of the things we put our characters through for it to be genuine? Fear, grief, betrayal, joy, love, etc.?)

7 thoughts on “Ouch”

  1. Oh god, yes. But it does creep up on you without your knowing it. I didn’t notice until after writing my entire first draft that a tleast one major event that my main character goes through is mirrored by experiences in my own life. How could I be so dumb, you wonder? I wonder that myself at times. To be fair (or to make excuses), the majority of my main character’s life have absolutely no resemblance to my own life. But obviously some things do affect us and they wheedle their way out into our writing, after taking a leisurely romp through our subconscious.

    As for the corollary: oh god, no. The only reason I say this is because the vast majority of fiction would not exist if that were the case. That’s why it’s fiction.

    Laying off the facetiousness for a moment–seriously, if we could only write from our personal experiences, how could I write about what a boy feels like getting kicked in the nuts? How could I write about the pains of chemotherapy or the feeling of scoring a goal in front of thousands of cheering fans? Okay, I haven’t actually written any of those besides the first, but the point is that is what we do as writers. We imagine and we put ourselves in our character’s shoes and say, “Now what would I do if I were a fifteen year old girl and I was suddenly faced with a six foot bird?” 🙂 As for the basic emotions of life, I have a tough time believing that anyone could have missed any. Even if your greatest betrayal was the woman at Starbucks putting regular Hershey’s syrup in your non-fat mocha, you have experienced the feeling. Then we just work on multiplying it by about a thousand and torturing our characters.

    Speaking of which, I should probably get back to torturing those characters. Or else torturing myself with actual work type things. But thank you for allowing me the brief diversion!

    1. I love this reply!

      You’re not dumb at all. I’d managed to hit the Big Major Ouchy Theme in three separate books – two finished, one almost finished – before realizing it. And of course, it’s obvious to everybody else. 😉

      I agree on the corollary, though I do have to add this: I think it’s one of the reasons we cannot isolate ourselves as authors (though being a hermit is soooo satisfying). I may never have been through chemotherapy, but I know people who have. I have never tamed a dragon, but I know people who’ve worked with large scary animals. Their experiences can help us. 😀

      You’re welcome for the diversion! Thanks for yours in return.

  2. I agree with Debra…I think we incorporate our own experiences into our writing because it subconsciously acts as a form of therapy. And I too have written stories…only to read them later and realize that I “pieced” in some of my own realty.

    1. Thank you – I’m glad to see you agree. It was a bit of a shock for me, especially since I could see how my own responses had developed through that of my protags. *laughs* Crazy stuff, this writing. 😀

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