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Growing With Your Characters (Like Plants! Except Not)

What makes a top-notch character? The kind you remember, who sticks with you. It's often a character who encourages you to grow!

Harry and Dumbledore taught us that love conquers all. Margaret helped us understand the freakiness of new teenagerdom. Charlotte and Wilbur made us into animal lovers, and Matilda gave us the confidence to stand up to nonsensical adults.

Every time we pick up a book, there's a chance a character inside will instill us with a different view of the world. Those rad characters make us grow, and they help mold us into the wacky people we're destined to become. Which is, y'know, pure awesome.

Alternatively, as writers, we make our own characters. (Wh00t!) They experience journeys concocted in our brains, live in worlds we think up ourselves, and go through hardships born from the things we've gone through ourselves.

So theoretically, with characters 100% of our creation, everything's pretty insulated, right? You can't really learn from your own characters the way you learn from others. Everything they learn is something you already knew. You can't exactly grow with them, because hey, you grew them.

But maybe that isn't so true. Our own characters are great because they're fun, almost with minds of their own, and their stories eat up our lives in the best way. In the end, though, what if the best part of writing our own characters is... learning from them?

When we write, we use the material we've collected throughout our lives, whether that means translating real-life events into fiction, spicing them up with a helping of imagination, or simply using them as building blocks. That material is synthesized, messed with, and turned into a work of literature.

In that process, I think we uncover new things. In writing our characters' stories, developing them and leading them, we realize things with them. They teach us new lessons and new ways of looking at life.

When a character falls, we fall too - and when we write about them getting up, we learn something new about getting up. We grow with them. Like plants! (Except less leafy.)

Just another reason why writing is practically a self-improvement exercise as well as a study of others. It's excellent! What have your characters taught you? And how have you grown with your characters?
Emilia Plater

Emilia is a YA author who avoids studying, food that isn't covered in cheese, and waking up before 10:30AM whenever possible. A bundle of confusions.

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9 comments:

  1. I like to think I can grow with my characters. Think of the research. I learn what they need to know. To put myself in someone else's shoes and consider a different way to deal with conflict.

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  2. I'm retweeting (or is that just plain tweeting?) simply because you wrote rad. Which is hella tight.

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  3. I definitely grew with my characters in my first official manuscript. They taught me so much in the writing process, like how to really listen to feedback and revise accordingly. :)

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  4. I love creating characters who overcome some hard life lessons. It's definitely reminds me, the human spirit is far more expansive than we ever knew - in life and in fiction.

    Not to mention I have a whole cache of experience to tap into. (Hugs)Indigo

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  5. Love this! I definitely think I grow with my characters. Because they aren't ME, and sometimes it's like they truly are just giving me advice.

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  6. My absolute favorite writing quote: Every time you compose a book, the composition of yourself is at stake.
    ~E. L. Doctorow

    It's so, so true. My characters do help me grow. They challenge my viewpoints, and what I think about the world.

    Excellent post.

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  7. My characters taught me that I am a control freak. I had them do things that made sense to me, and later on I thought to myself, "Geez she needs to lay off. What a control freak. Oooooh s**t."

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  8. great post. my characters have helped me in articulating my thoughts and opinions on all sorts of issues, emotions, and aspects of being human -- both in my actual prose, and in subtler ways through my themes and my characters' arcs.

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  9. Excellent post, Em. I'm with Kir – I feel like I learn how to articulate things I haven't been able to before thanks to writing a story through someone else's eyes.

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Item Reviewed: Growing With Your Characters (Like Plants! Except Not) Rating: 5 Reviewed By: Emilia Plater