This can be a tough situation for any writer.
There are several stages connected with realising your character is more interesting than you – the writer.
- The Character Creation Stage. You have exceeded your literary expectations and created an amazing new character. She’s beautiful, sassy, funny, intelligent, a fashion trend setter, possesses some unusual magical powers, has a funky name and some lovable flaws. When she enters a scene all your other characters sit up and stare at her. You lean back in your chair and marvel at your literary abilities.
- The Fangirl Stage. You seek some feedback on your story and send your draft out for review or stick it on a writing platform. After a few weeks you start to get some responses. OMG – your reviewers love your main character! Actually they like this character so much they have started fangirling. They are in awe of her special powers, her sense of humour and her rebellious fashion sense. You start to feel uncomfortable as you read this outpouring of fan girl love for your character. As you continue to read you start to feel a little irritated and say things like “can everyone calm down she’s FICTIONAL!” and “can’t anyone see that I based her on me?”
- The Denial Stage. This is where you hear a little voice inside you say “that character is more interesting than you!” Gasp! It can’t be true! You have NOT created a character who is more interesting than you. In your head you start to compare yourself to your main character. This is what you come up with. After a good hair and beauty session with a top makeover professional, some good lighting, a forgiving photo filter and some serious photo editing you could rival her natural beauty. You practically invented the term ‘sassy’ (..some years ago). With some private tuition you could rival her in terms of intelligence and you are always setting new fashion trends with your love of casual / lazy day clothes. If your parents had been a bit more imaginative at your birth you would have an interesting name, you perform many magical tricks whilst cleaning the house, you are riddled with flaws and people notice you when you enter a room…(um…yes they do). There is no doubt in your mind that you are interesting – you are a writer for goodness sake! Ok so you don’t get out much, you spend a lot of your time in a darkened room talking to yourself – but that’s low level detail. You are still way more interesting than your character!
- The Character Irritation Stage. The realisation that you are living in your character’s shadow starts to irritate you. This takes the form of an eye roll or two when you sit down to write or you start moaning about her to your writer friends…“my main character is really doing my head in…she thinks she’s something special!” Things might even take a turn for the worse when you start to dampen down her qualities in your story. You will say stuff like “see how you like this average haircut!” and “stop stealing my limelight!”
- The Realisation Stage. It doesn’t take long for you to come to your literary senses. After a frantic search of Google, some long-winded emails to writer friends and a heart to heart with an unsympathetic loved one, you realise that characters need to have that stand out quality.
Here are some tips on how to handle this challenging scenario:
- Readers want characters who are bold, memorable and compelling. So yes – you need to move your ego aside and make your characters way more interesting than you.
- As the writer you have to accept you are simply the host so….step aside.
- Feel proud of yourself for creating an interesting fictional person.
Have a great day!