A lot of people who are not authors assume that our characters are avatars of us. Unless we are writing our autobiography, our characters should really not be us if we're decent writers, though of course we pull elements from our own lives to influence how we express their experiences. However, it occurs to me that I rarely create characters who are "into" what I'm into--I mean, I've never even made a character who writes novels!--so I thought I'd do a short examination of my protagonists' interests, influences, and situations, and how they compare to mine. I'll start with the most recent and go to the oldest.
Nick, from Stupid Questions: Nick spends most of the story trying to get the mysterious minor celebrity Summer to be his girlfriend, and spends the rest of the story trying to figure out unusual aspects of himself.
- How We're the Same: We both have "outsider experiences" and can be very perceptive, and we both kind of have a similar strong sense of justice and apathy toward organized religion. And we do both like coffee, though he's kind of obsessed with it.
- How We're Different: He's really into movies and film (though it's not explored much in the book), and he went to college for screenwriting but ended up going into camerawork and now works as a cameraman for the news, while I'm not interested in that in the slightest. He's sexually and romantically interested in women, and has a long history of bad relationships, while I am not and don't. He wants to get married and have kids, while I don't. He was raised by a single dad and has no siblings, while I was raised by married parents and have sisters. He likes to drink and sometimes uses it as a crutch, while I don't drink at all. He likes going out to clubs and I hate them.
- How We're the Same: We were both good in school, we both have a good memory, we both like to bake, and we both have a younger sister. (Well, I have two.) And we're both decent at sketching and singing, and though neither of us is trained in visual art, I'm trained in singing and she isn't.
- How We're Different: Pretty much every other way. Cassie wants to be someone else and I never did. Cassie is very romantically obsessed with a couple different boys and obviously I am not interested in boys. Cassie is very good at math and physics. Let's just say I'm not. Cassie's sister is chronically ill and none of my family members were. Cassie, as a brown-eyed brunette, romanticizes blue-eyed blondeness as some kind of classical beauty standard, while I always thought it was kind of boring (I guess the grass is always greener?).
- How We're the Same: We're both cerebral, both found our education mostly unchallenging, and both accomplished things we weren't "supposed" to do at our age. (Delia experienced her magickal manifestation at age two when the earliest previous record was a five-year-old child, while I was tested for reading in kindergarten and was close to a fifth grade level so they just didn't bother assigning me to a reading group and sent me to the labs with the fifth graders during reading.) We both had some social issues as children. We were both kind of misunderstood, but loved by our mothers, and enjoy pushing ourselves. We both rise to the challenge if we are attacked. And we both have long hair.
- How We're Different: Delia is very serious and dramatic, while I'm really not. Delia alienates people easily because of her sort of creepy obsessions with death and mystery, and I'm not a "dark" person at all. Delia has much bigger problems with self-centered and egotistical behavior than I ever did, though maybe sometimes I can be interpreted that way if somebody sets me off. Delia likes teaching others, and I hated teaching. Delia is a below-average singer and I am an above-average singer. And though Delia is a child in Book 1, she does mature into a heterosexual woman, so she desires relationships with men. I don't.
- How We're the Same: We're both vegetarian. We both think too much. We both like documenting things. We both didn't have a lot of friends in school.
- How We're Different: He LOVES animals. LOVES them. I don't ever want to have pets. He likes photography, and I'm not into it. He goes along with whatever his friends want to do and is a lot more susceptible to peer pressure than I ever was. He sometimes manipulates his parents and other adults and I never did that. My parents were not divorced when I was a kid.
Those are the main characters of the stories I'm currently considering my "active" long fiction, but I've written a lot of other stories and I'll jump into my analyses of protagonists from my teen years next.
Ivy, from The House That Ivy Built: This series, written during my college years, is just the formless adventures of a telekinetic teenager who doesn't really want to do anything special except live her life. It's about her relationships and her everyday existence, and sometimes explores the issues of trying to fit in or stand out.
- How We're the Same: We have both used the chosen name Ivy, and were both given different names at birth. (We did it for different reasons; I used it as a nickname my best friend gave me incorporated into an online handle, and she used it as given to her by a guardian who didn't know her name.) We both have long blonde hair. We both like singing and are good at it. We both have a bit of a reputation in some circles for others not wanting to piss us off. We are both uninterested in sexual relationships with others, though for different reasons.
- How We're Different: She has an extremely short attention span and an extremely short fuse. I'm extremely patient. She is a poor speller and I'm an excellent one. She's very tall and skinny and I'm very short and just kind of on the slim side. She's very good with directions and distance and spatial calculations, while I'm terrible at finding my way anywhere. She has a jealousy problem and I don't. She likes basketball and gymnastics and I don't. She's got superpowers and I don't. (Haha.)
- How We're the Same: Same thing with the "outsider experience" and perceptiveness I mentioned with my entry for Nick above. We both had a pretty crappy middle school experience. We're both long-haired blondes.
- How We're Different: She's the youngest of five siblings; I'm the oldest of three. She was raised by a single mom; I was raised by two married parents. I'm a positive person, while she has a consistently negative attitude and lives in a cloud of pessimism for some reason--my writing for her always seemed to be coated in negativity and sarcasm. She fixates on finding a boyfriend. I never cared about that. Her family is Christian. Mine isn't.
- How We're the Same: We both did a lot of squabbling with our siblings. We both like children. We both don't mind taking risks to uncover the truth. (Okay, that's cheesy.)
- How We're Different: She has a brother (and a twin), and I don't. She likes music that I don't like. She's from a Christian family and I'm not. She hates dressing like her sibling and I kind of liked doing that.