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YOU as a Character!

YOU as a Character!

A Lesson by TopHatGirl

Why you aren't as special and amazing as you think, and when voice is appropriate.


I'm here and recently off of school, serving up lessons on hot plates! The older lessons might be a little stale with poor grammar and misspellings, but still fill your stomach! Ignore the waiter giving you the evil eye over there, he just went through a nasty breakup involving a rake. Also, the more experienced chef recently had a heart attack and won't be cooking for a while. But I'm here! With advice! And knowledge!
...I'll stop now.

This lesson is essentially two separate lessons, but both involve someone special: you. Yes, you! Hooray! I'll be making fun of my less intelligent peers and ridiculing everyone the entire way. It's fun!
The first one is about you as an author, your narration, and how you ultimately come off to the reader, because you yourself is a very important character, author. The second lesson is about having characters BASED off of you, IN your story, and ultimately reeking havoc on your poor, poor story.  These are two very different things, mind you.
Okay, ahem. Let's begin, yes?

Despite what English teachers say, the voice in a story pretty much says who you are. Yes, you! (Want to see how many times I can say that with relevancy in this lesson?). Even if the voice in a story is completely different than your own, it's still coming from a fraction of your personality. Instead of taking examples from other books, let's just point at this course itself. This course has voice. I say 'hooray', use restaurant analogies, and take a sarcastic look on things. That's who I am. Do you feel like you know me? Yes, you do know me. You also judge me, even if you don't know it. You may love the way I never take anything seriously, and you also may hate me for that same reason. A lot of people hate how unprofessional I am, because I'm only a kid. Some people like how I am unprofessional, because I don't confuse the reader with technical terms and arrogant, holier-than-thou attitudes.
What was I saying? Enough about me.
Let's get back to you. Yes, you!
You rub off onto your pages. If you're depressed, cynical , and bitter, it's pretty easy to tell in your writing, even if you try your hardest. It's true. Get over it. The thing is, you have to take advantage of this.
Note: Yes, this is in itself a character lesson. You are a character, whether you like it or not.
If you're writing a comedy, use your personality to have your narrations in a quirky, fun way. If it's a depressing one, tap into your inner angst and let it shine.
Sometimes, it's better to try to be someone you're not.
But TopHatGirl, you whine, my guidance counselor always said to be who you are!
Yeah, but you're boring. Your character is freakin' magical wizard who's brave and witty. You peed your pants when you gave a speech in History class and think that Nickelodeon shows are the most hilarious things on the planet. Even if you would make an awesome person on the page (which I'll talk about in a minute) you shouldn't let that show in your writing. Your voice is you, but your character isn't.
Which brings me to my next part.

You only wish you were.
I am about to tell you one of the most important things ever: DO NOT PUT YOURSELF INTO FICTION.
Biographies? Go for it, you ARE the main character.
Fiction? No. No! DON'T DO IT. And I'm not talking about people who just paste themselves in, not even changing the name.
No, even worse, they paste themselves in, change the name to make it more whimsical, like Harmony, or Maximilian, then have them be even BETTER. I'm not talking about a Mary Sue here, I'm talking about YOU. Yes, you.
And you are not amazing. You're pretty sweet, with great traits and qualities, and I hope you know how to put them in. Do not shove all of your 'great' traits into the protagonist. Do not make them reflect you, or who you want to be. Because if you want to be them, then chances are, they're going to turn into a Mary Sue.
Once you have a you-but-not-you character, then you start sympathizing for them. It's hard for you to destroy them, or have anything bad for them. Or maybe it's the opposite, and you're a self hater, because all you do to your you-but-not-you character is bully them mercilessly, to a point of too much. Yes, there's a point of too many flaws.
Because if you bully your character, and never point out anything good, or at least explain WHY they are who they are, then it makes it seem like you're a jerk. See what I meant in part one?
Do not have characters based completely off of you. Make traits up. Steal traits from others. Take one or two from yourself. Have them be a melting pot of different ideas.
You are not awesome. Yes, you.
You are just a voice, who should be unbiased towards your characters.
Did this lesson make any sense AT ALL?

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Posted 4 Years Ago

that definitely makes alot of sence.... but i guess its something ive done alot.... that maybe i should stop. I am really enjoying this course and am learing alot thanks for sharing your ... guess wisdom is best word there but thanks

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Posted 5 Years Ago

Okay, question: In my recent story, I'm having serious sympathy for the main character.... I mean, granted, that hasn't stopped me from making bad things happen to her, but when I'm writing, its like I feel a lot of the things she is feeling. Is that a bad thing?

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Posted 5 Years Ago

Question: what if you make a character based purely on yourself? Do you have to put in ALL of your traits or just the ones you think are important?
Thanks and great lesson!

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Posted 5 Years Ago

I have a question: Can I put all MY FLAWS in a character??? It seems to help me......

Also: Sometimes I find that I don't have a pre-determined character. I just sort of mess around with the story and get a voice. I don't create the character first, I create the story and how I voice the story. Because I write in first person, sometimes, it seems to me that that character is too much like me. How does that work? Is it okay or do I have to kill it?

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Posted 6 Years Ago

Brilliant lesson!
Although I am guilty of trying to put myself into some of my writing; it never seemed to work though, my characters always ended up running away with their own personalities instead of being like me :)

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Posted 6 Years Ago

If the characters based on fragments of myself are the ones I'm too nice to, I'd hate to see what terrible fates await ones I've got no connection with at all... :)

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Added on June 9, 2011
Last Updated on June 9, 2011
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Hi, I'm TopHatGirl! If you're here about my character lessons or to get some advice, email me instead of messaging at This is because I don't go on this site as much anym..