The “Me” in My Characters

goetheToday, I read the following quote on Facebook:

Every author in some way portrays himself in his works, even if it be against his will.

                                                          – Goethe

I’ve always known a part of me is in each of my characters, but I’ve also been surprised at just what part of me comes out unintentionally. Often, I don’t see it until I go back and re-read or edit something I’ve written.

Sometimes, it is in the process of interviewing my characters that I learn what part of me is in my character. This happened when I interviewed Nobu from The Red Kimono.

In the following excerpt from my blog post, Happy Hour with Nobu, I learned what part of me Nobu said I’d given him:


I decide to close with a question I’ve asked others. “Is there anything you’d like to answer that I haven’t asked?”

Nobu flashes a broad, wise smile and for the first time, I see how handsome he is. “Yes. Of course,” he replies. “Like many of the characters you have created, I know that I am a part of you. You should have asked me, ‘What part of you was created from me?’”

An interesting question. “Okay, Nobu. What part of you was created from me?” I am a little afraid of his answer.

He straightens and I can tell he’s shaken off the sadness of his last answer. “The writer. As with you, I write in my journal those thoughts and feelings I am afraid to share. Perhaps because I don’t want to cause someone pain, or perhaps I don’t want to anger them. Anyway, as you know, I often decide it best to keep such feelings to myself. Still there is a part of me many do not know. Maybe one day, after I am gone, someone will find my journals and will know who I really am inside.”

* * *

Of my three point of view characters in The Red Kimono–Sachi, Nobu and Terrence–Nobu is most like me. His conflict is between doing what is expected of him and doing what he desires to do, without regard for what others may think.

Sachi is the part of me I wished to be–childlike, even childish. Fearlessly petulant. Adventurous, independent.

Steve has told me I do my best writing in a child’s voice. I found that interesting, since as I said, I believe Nobu is most like me. On the other hand, I do enjoy the freedom and playfulness, even orneriness of writing in Sachi’s and Jubie’s voices.

Writing gives me a second chance at childhood.

I’d love for you to share what part of you is in your characters. Does that trait appear in many of your characters? Is there a part of you that you’d like to create in a character, but haven’t? Why?

Leave a comment and let us know!

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2 Responses to The “Me” in My Characters

  1. Oh, so very true, but I’d have to really dissect the males in my books to find bits of me. I’m sure it’s there, just never thought of it. But I see a lot of me in every female character in every book. Either in some opinions, personality traits, appearance or habits. In two books my heroines each have one creative talent that I do, such as it might be. I think they are better at that talent than I am. I liked the way you interviewed Nobu and he came right out with what he thought. Very clever. Just like you.


  2. Mustang.Koji says:

    There is a great relevance in what you wrote… I’m not a gifted writer or anything but certainly, creating a fictional persona is much more difficult than putting “you” into another. And what Steve said about a kid’s voice… I also feel simple words are best sometimes. Indeed, words without a lot of syllables. Have you ever dissected Churchill’s war speeches?


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