Is your main character you? How to tell – and how to widen your character repertoire

Although it would be dangerous beyond my comprehension, I wouldn’t mind being Ivory for a day. However, I’d be lying if I said there wasn’t some of me in her and vise versa. Then again, perhaps I was just living out a fantasy through my main character…imagine that! 😉

Nail Your Novel

Portrait of Oscar Wilde with Cane

As Oscar Wilde didn’t say: ‘Be yourself, everyone else is taken’. (No really, he didn’t.)

In our early novels, we’re more likely to see our main characters as proxies for ourselves. But there comes a stage where we learn more versatility, and to create new hearts, souls and minds to carry our stories. This was one of the interesting findings of a project organised by a team of researchers at Durham University and reported here in The Guardian.

Authors who took part in the survey were asked how they experience their main characters while writing. Those with many books reported that in their early work they saw the main character as a proxy for themselves. Sometimes it was simply wish fulfilment. Sometimes it was a deeper working, perhaps of a problem they couldn’t express in the real world, or an issue they had left undone. It was only in…

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