This post was written specifically for the #AuthorToolboxBlogHop. All opinions expressed are the author’s own, so blame him accordingly.
It’s not a rare, or even new, thing for authors to put themselves into their work. The practice has been around for centuries and has been used by universally regarded artists. But it can be a fine line between self-reference and wish fulfillment.
What tends to draw negative attention is when the author surrogate or stand-in is shown to be an idealized version, one who seems extraordinarily skilled or universally loved & admired. It’s important to note that a character may be perceived this way, despite what the author originally intended, and that debate continues to go back and forth about which characters do or do not fit this description.
The reason I bring this up is that ever since I started my House Valerius series, I’ve worried about how my main character, Ash, will be perceived. Anyone who has the misfortune to both know me personally and to have read some of the series, would say without a doubt that Ash is very much like myself. This is perhaps exacerbated by my writing in first-person, from his point of view. True, he is now younger than I am (although we were the same age when I first had the idea), he’s in better physical condition and, generally, is more confident and self-reliant than I am.
Does this make him a wish-fulfillment character? Again, it’s true that I’ve said more than once that I wish I had some of the qualities I mentioned above or that I was more like him in that regard. But, at the same time, he is by no means exceptional within the context of the story. The skills he has are a result of years of training and there are plenty of characters with far greater experience, several of who he has to rely on at various points. He might be the focal point of the story (first person again) but I don’t think it could be said that story revolves around him.
I realize that whatever I think about Ash, it doesn’t necessarily translate to how a reader will see him. Does anyone else have these worries about their characters?
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