OPTIONAL Question: Have you ever slipped any of your personal information into your characters, either by accident or on purpose?
I add personal information all the time. Not personal history. Not family secrets. Not even how I see the world. What I share in my work are my feelings.
I want to tell share truths.
I want to relate to my readers.
We all feel things. I don’t need to say this. We all know this to be true. Sharing my raw emotions is a form of reaching out. What I feel others have felt. I’m not special.
What I do with these feelings is chain them to my character’s life experience. They face a moment of loneliness and I look back at a time I faced being alone. No doubt it has been romanticized and it may be ballooned. I don’t think about that during my first draft and would never suggest or capture the real events that led to my loneliness. That would involve too many people—me included. But I run parallels in my imagination and take advantage of my rollercoaster past as much as possible.
But the one thing I will suggest is if a character goes through an event that brings about a visceral reaction you’ve had—dig deep and get it out. Don’t hold back.
Holding back is not what the reader is looking for. And the feelings aren’t the actual experience.
For example: Someone leaves your life and you know you’d never trade a moment of your time together. There is the loss, the adapting, healing, and the memories. What would you use?
Your main character’s situation will be entirely different.
It’s the moment the MC walks away into the sunset. The moment someone dies in the MC’s arms. The moment they turn down a wedding proposal. Or the MC leaves against their parents’ wishes; they see their sibling watching them go. What emotional road do they land up following? What are the consequences?
The list is endless.
What do you do to make your story real?