When an author writes, sometimes it’s good to leave their own personality on the shelf. People are creatures of habit. Some of the things we do, we aren’t conscientious of it because we do it so often. This sometimes shows in our writing. But a good author can spot when this happens and rewrite what they need to so their personality isn’t on the page.
The reason we have to do this is because all of the characters we write about can’t sound like us and have our traits. Our characters can’t all be the same either. The characters we write about must have their own personality. They must see things differently than we do. A good example of this is I’m not a criminal. The thought of committing a crime scares me to death. But I write about characters that commit crimes. For the sake of further explaining, I’m going to use my book “The Blood Feud” as another example.
My main character in this book is an assassin. This means he must act like an assassin, which is something I am not. When he faces an opportunity to kill, I can’t let my personality jump in the way and write him like some pansy. He needs to be tough and unafraid to kill, which is something I wouldn't be able to do. I know many of you reading this might be thinking, “I already know this. I don’t have a problem with this issue.”
I beg to differ!
If your book doesn’t have enough tension and action and bad things happening, then your personality and your fear of what readers will think about your characters are getting in the way. Books are not based on happy experiences. They are based on drama. Remember what I said in a previous post? A book should be about a struggle. Man versus man. Man versus self. Man versus nature. Man versus society. Again I’m going to stress the importance of conflict. All good books have plenty of conflict.
Now let’s look at this at a different angle. My personality causes me to focus on more than one thing at one time, because the more I get done in a day, the more accomplished I feel. This can translate over in my novels. If I add too many things for the reader to focus on, they get confused and lose sight of the book’s plot. I must put my personality on the shelf at times by understanding what the reader wants. What they don’t want is a convoluted story that’s too hard to understand.
If a writer has a passive personality, they tend to write about passive characters. They feel uncomfortable writing about discord, but discord sales a book. The same can be said of someone that’s aggressive. If all of their characters are aggressive, the reader will most likely think something is wrong with the author and will question why everyone is so angry in the book.
A good writer must find a balance. They must if they want believable characters that readers will fall in love with.
Today, as I’m writing and going over chapters I’ve already written, this is what I focused on. I asked myself constantly if my personality could be seen in my characters, then found a way to eliminate it. My bad guy must be a bad guy. My other characters must have individuality that a reader can identify with. The struggle my character faces must seem real and their response and reaction to these struggles should be believable. If I can accomplish that my readers will thank me for it.
So remember to leave your personality on the shelf and write solely from your characters’ individual point of views.