Are Your Characters, You Know, You?

A thought-provoking post from my friend Miranda Suri over at Comedy or Tragedy?

So. Do I base my characters on myself? Do I base characters on people I know?

Yes and no.


Let’s start with the self. Many characters have started as me, but they have become someone else pretty damned fast. The character that has resembled me most in recent years has actually ended up back in the casting room. She was CUT from her story because she was a secondary character who just wasn’t needed in the main thrust.

I will admit that aspects of myself often end up in characters. Abigail Rath is the sort of know-it-all kid I was, only she’s a know-it-all kid on steroids. Stephanus Galt has the same sort of parenting issues, and the painful shyness that goes with them, although his withdrawal is more angry than mine.

I can see myself in some of my characters, but they certainly are not me.

And other people? Well, again, the situation is similar. Some characters I pattern on versions of people I know. They may start as more like the people I know, but become more what the story demands they become. I can often find a piece of a friend in them.

Milo Hamwich is currently a lot like my friend Mark. Astrid is currently a lot like my friend Lisa. The Widow is less like my mother than she was. Errol is less like Bryon than he once was, but there’s still a lot of him in there. I expect these characters will only be based on the people I know in the end, but there will be recognizable bits.


I have written about absolute strangers. No one in O-Taga-San or Turtle of the Earth is based on anyone. So, it can be done.

How about you? Where do you find yourself pulling the influences from your characters from?


Author: Catherine Schaff-Stump

Catherine Schaff-Stump writes fiction for children and young adults. Her most recent book, The Vessel of Ra, is the first book in the Klaereon Scroll series. She is currently working on its sequel, as well as penning the middle grade adventures of Abigail Rath, monster hunter.

2 thoughts on “Are Your Characters, You Know, You?”

  1. Thanks for sharing the link. The experience I had with this was particularly disorienting for me since I’d made a concerted effort *not* to have my character be anything like me, yet aspects of myself slipped in anyhow.

    The subconscious, man…it’s a powerful thing 🙂

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