As a relatively new writer I have noticed a strange thing happens when you talk to some people about your work. They tend to assume anything you write reflects your own life experiences, personal likes and dislikes, and deeply held beliefs. Whereas it really doesn’t.
I have written characters that eat things I don’t like. Do jobs I’ve never done. Hold political beliefs that are the opposite of my own. And yet often, people assume if I write a surfing loving character – that means I must love surfing. If I write about a couple into Macrame basket weaving, then I must be into Macrame basket weaving – right?
Erm…no. If I only wrote my own experiences, or things I have actually done, or things I personally like – then I’m sure it would get pretty boring for readers. For example, I have a certain type of man I like – dark haired, blue eyed, muscular, with a nice smattering of chest hair and some stubble along his jawline. Now imagine, if every romantic hero I wrote was tall, dark, muscular and hairy, with blue eyes? It would grow boring – fast. (And actually, the hero I like the most out of all my leading men has sandy brown hair and light hazel eyes.)
Similarly, I have written heroines (in the books that have them as a lot of my writing is m/m) that are utterly different to me. They don’t like the things I like, they don’t look anything like me, and they react to things in a totally different way to how I would react. I remember one particular example; I’d written a scene where my heroine eats some lobster – with great relish. A friend who had offered to do a beta read for me, got to this scene, stopped reading and gave me a puzzled stare. “But you hate lobster.” She said.
Yes. Yes I do hate lobster. But my character didn’t – she loved it. My characters are not me – they are fictional creations.