One of the questions I often get from those starting out on the fiction writing life is this: what if I piss off people with what I write? What if people recognize themselves in my characters?
Personally, I write what I don’t know a lot of the time, which keeps things interesting for me–so there’s little danger that some of my real-life friends, family, and acquaintances will recognize themselves in my writing.
I do use some people as models, taking either their physical, mental, spiritual or social characteristics and make them a hybrid. The characters who act on the page often do not have much to do with people I know, but the emotions they feel are sometimes informed by my own experience. This does involve vulnerability of a certain sort.
I got thinking about this when I read this article:
Vulnerability—in writing and in life—requires seeing the world around us and within us, lowering our shields in order to feel something, and then giving voice to whatever truths come out of that. Vulnerability has a lot to do with empathy—for the world, for others, and for ourselves. This exposes us to all kinds of danger (ridicule and rejection to name just a few). That’s why it’s scary. The protective device necessary when we’re making ourselves vulnerable is a rooted sense of self and worthiness—this “know thyself” impulse should grow throughout our lives, and as our identity is formed and solidified, so too is our confidence and security. With this intact, being vulnerable and the potential attacks affiliated with vulnerability won’t hurt as long or have as lasting of a sting.
The article goes on to include a few very useful tips on how to mine ourselves as writers. Check it out.
What about you? As a writer do you put yourself or those you know on the page? As a reader are you curious about how some your favorite characters came into being? Do you let yourself be vulnerable as a writer, use material from your own life? What are the pros and cons? What should writers be wary of? Who are your favorite fictional characters, and do you wonder where they came from?
Please join Daily (w)rite on its Facebook Page in case you would like to be heard by this community. If you liked this post, you can have biweekly posts delivered to your inbox: click the Subscription button in the sidebar.