Thursday, April 22, 2010

Blog Chain: You're a bad, bad girl, Kat Harris

Sandra gaves us a choice of blog topics this time around. I chose this one:

Have you ever created a character different from yourself in some significant way, such as (but not limited to) different gender, race, ethnic group, religion, or sexual orientation? If so, what, if any, research did you do to portray these differences? Was this character a main character, secondary character, or walk-on? Did these differences have an impact on the story?

It was a tradition at my high school. Every year, during prom, a couple of students would read the list of wills and prophecies the junior class had created for the seniors.

I dreaded thinking about what they had written for me. It was a small school. I was a bit of a wallflower. And even wallflowers stand out at small schools. At the time, the last thing I wanted to do was stand out.

So there I sat with my date, who was also my best friend's boyfriend (figure that one out), suppressing a panic attack as they read my will: "I, Kathryn Harris, bestow my lengthy criminal record to Ryan M."

It was brilliant. I didn't have a criminal record. I'd never had a detention. I probably hadn't even had a late assignment. On the other hand, Ryan M. had already had multiple run-ins with figures of authority.

As everyone laughed -- including myself -- I realized that the thing that stood out most about me was the fact that I did nothing to stand out.

Although this wallflower has blossomed a little bit over the years, not much has changed. I tend to live within the parameters established by my standards, my faith, my vows and my mom's guilt. (And that last one is like a brick wall.)

I'm pretty sure the everyday life of a suburban-dwelling, career-minded mother of two is not the stuff good books are made of. So, yes, my characters are significantly different from me.

One of my heroines comes from a trainwreck of a home, doesn't think twice about dropping the "F-bomb" and snorts coke like a celebrity at an after-party party. The other explodes out of her goody-two-shoes mold, has an affair that leads to attempted murder that leads to something much, much crazier. (But so much fun.)

There was not a lot of research involved in the creation of these characters. After living with an alcoholic for so many years, it wasn't difficult to get into the mindset of an addict. It was, however, uncomfortable the first time I realized that character's drug of choice was coke.

I'm also still trying to establish a comfort zone with the other heroine's promiscuity and to find a way of tactfully conveying that aspect of her life. I'm confident that eventually will happen.

I think, deep down, these two characters are the result of the years and years I've spent suppressing my bad-girl side. (Really? Did I just write that?) It's a way to get into trouble without actually breaking the law. It's a form of escapism and vicarious living.

And I suppose the differences between myself and my characters do have an impact on the story. But that's what makes the stories mine.

How are your characters different from you?

Check out what Michelle H. had to say about this topic before me. Also, don't miss what Christine has to say tomorrow.


Aubrie said...

Wow, that's great that you can write characters that are so different than you! I try to write characters that are different, and then I find myself in each and every one in different ways. Isn't that wierd?

Anonymous said...

Certainly the beauty of writing is that our characters can be whoever we want them to be.

Great post!

Elana Johnson said...

Great story. I wonder what people would've said about me.

I have to admit that most of my characters have an infusion of me in them. Some more than others. Some are definitely more brave, better fliers, and have paranormal powers.

Eric said...

First off - Adam Ant. Wow. Just Wow.

I was laughing because the woman in the video probably isn't what a guy like Adam Ant is looking for. And the outfits? fuggetaboutit.

This is a great post though, and I'm not surprised at all that you write the way you do. Your writer's voice just on this blog hints at your ability to transcend yourself and really dive into whatever characters you are creating.

Great answer, Kat.

Lindsay (a.k.a Isabella) said...

Great post.

I think my characters have a bit of me in but I do take different aspects of lots of people and blend them together. I wish I was as tough as my MC. lol.

Sandra Ulbrich Almazan said...

I love that song--and interesting take on the topic! Those are some significant differences indeed!

nomadshan said...

You're the first to bring up the opportunity to live vicariously through characters. That's certainly an attractive part of the job! :) And I'm really intrigued by your position that the differences between you and your characters have an impact on your story -- in some cases they're probably more impactful than your similarities.

Roland D. Yeomans said...

I created RASHA, a fallen angel awakening in a British insane asylum with no memory of how she got there. Telling it in first person help ground me in seeing humans and the world through alien eyes that had seen the fires of creation and the utter darkness of the pit. I enjoyed the process, gaining a slightly different perspective of life and eternity in the doing of it. Roland

Christine Fonseca said...

Great post Kat! I loved the whole, surpressing my bad side statement...:D

Michelle H. said...

Great post! Sometimes I write stories that have me written all over it. But quite often I write them so far from who I am that I have to sit back and wonder about the characters. I think that's what intrigues me the most, finding out what else makes those different characters tick.

Rosslyn Elliott said...

My characters aren't like me by necessity, as they live in a different century. It's very challenging to enter that mindset, but I love it when I get it right.

Can't wait to read about your second heroine!

Journaling Woman said...

I am positive that my characters are parts of me - almost always- the good, bad and often ugly parts of me.

Great post!!!

Cole Gibsen said...

Awesome post. And I think that it's even awesomer that you're willing to step outside of yourself with your characters!

Kate Karyus Quinn said...

Ha - love "years of suppressing my bad girl side". I think I do that with my characters too!

B.J. Anderson said...

That is a pretty awesome answer!! And your story sounds soooo interesting.

Mandy said...

Great post, Kat! I think one of the joys of writing is stepping out of your own skin for a while and becoming someone else! :D

Sarah Bromley said...

Great post, Kat! I definitely agree that sometimes, by creating characters so very different from ourselves, we get to live a wealth of lives we'd otherwise never know.

prashant said...

wonder what people would've said about me.
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