Writing about "yourself":

Total posts: [17]
Anything but artist
So i've been working on a novel, but lately I've realized that many secondary traits about my protagonist are taken directly from me, more of this traits are plot-irrelevant and are mostly to give the character some personality (for example his prefered clothing brand), the thing is, most people will instantly realize the similarities between him and me and I'm afraid the readers will think of it as a Marty Stu or consider the novel a Wish Fullfillment while the truth is that the character isn't even an Autor Avatar.

What do the other tropers recommend? I'm thinking seriously about changing those traits to prevent this from happening.

edited 30th Mar '11 4:27:41 PM by redpyro

I'm not a native english speaker, please forgive my bad grammar and misspells.
Just change the gender and ethnicity around, you'll look culturally conscious and no one will suspect a thing.

Gotta stick to your guns with the clothing brand infodumps, though. Shit's important.

edited 30th Mar '11 4:18:52 PM by Penguin4Senate

Anything but artist
[up] His gender is unexchangable and the setting is my own city because I want something my audience can relate to... well shit, after saying that I feel like I really need to change it, even while I'm fully aware I'm not writting myself it feels like that when describing him.

edited 30th Mar '11 4:25:44 PM by redpyro

I'm not a native english speaker, please forgive my bad grammar and misspells.
4 Iverum30th Mar 2011 04:31:21 PM from outside the key
So, the character lives in your city, has your gender(?), has your personality, but totally isn't you? I don't see how anyone could get confused about how it's not an Author Avatar.

Plot irrelevant traits don't really need to be mentioned do they?

edited 30th Mar '11 4:32:52 PM by Iverum

Anything but artist
[up] Oh, but he does not have my personality, I won't say he's the exact oposite of me, but his personality, background and flaws aren't taken from myself, what happens is that I don't like writting descriptions like "X character is a cheerful guy who lives with his single father and is afraid of spiders", I preffer to let them be known as the story progresses.

Edit: I like to mention irrelevant traits to make the characters feel more alive (if the characters are deciding where to eat, the character will suggest to eat pizza because it's his favorite food, even if the plot would develope the same if they where to go to a chinese restaurant)

edited 30th Mar '11 4:46:34 PM by redpyro

I'm not a native english speaker, please forgive my bad grammar and misspells.
My teacher's a panda
I don't really see a problem. It's not that uncommon a thing for writers to pull a little from themselves into their character. It's called "Writing what you know". I do it all the time. I would pull different traits from myself and put a little into every single one of my characters, yet all of my characters end up becoming unique and distinguishable from each other, and distinguishable from myself. If you don't put a little of yourself into your characters, I would be concerned about that. As long as you don't take it to far, have the character being perfect, etc, you should be fine. It sounds like your character is very well-developed, so even if the character happened to be a carbon copy of yourself, it shouldn't really matter, a good character is a good character.
7 MrAHR30th Mar 2011 05:29:54 PM from ಠ_ಠ , Relationship Status: A cockroach, nothing can kill it.
Ahr river
The city is only going to be relatable for people who live there. For everyone else, it's just a random name.
8 nrjxll30th Mar 2011 08:01:05 PM , Relationship Status: Not war
There's also the fact that whether people perceive a character as an Author Avatar really depends on how much they know about you, the author.

To give an example from my own works: since most of the characters in my comic are named after people I know, they included one named after myself. I decided to parody the whole idea of Author Avatars with him by making him the most over-the-top stereotypical nerd Wish Fulfillment type of character I could: a Badass Bookworm who is a brilliant military genius, widely loved and famous among the population, a part-time superhero, and top it off, winds up becoming President of the Galactic Alliance (and best-selling author) in the "Where Are They Now?" Epilogue. The only thing he was missing was dozens of women throwing themselves at him.

The problem with this is that it became apparent the only way to tell he was a parody and not a normal Marty Stu * was if you knew me personally and were aware that none of this, except possibly becoming president, really matches my own personal Wish Fulfillment at all. A true Author Avatar for me, at least an idealized one, would probably be much more like a Deadpan Snarker Einstein Sue then anything resembling this kind of "action hero" fantasy.

The point I'm trying to make, besides simply raving about my own work, is that most people's view of an Author Avatar is basically related to the stereotypical Mary Sue or Marty Stu, like "me" in my comics. Is your protagonist like that? If so, your problems are probably a lot bigger than a character resembling you. If not, then it's not really a problem if you put some of yourself into him. When people complain about author avatars, they're complaining specifically about idealized versions of the author. Keep your protagonist from becoming idealized and it won't matter if he's "you" or not.
9 Jumpingzombie30th Mar 2011 08:13:19 PM from a hill in Washington
Queen of Hyperbole
As long as it doesn't bend the plot to the will and attention (unnecessarily) to the character, I think it's ok. also, if you keep the character rounded, it really shouldn't risk the MS zone. Plenty of writers do that though, so don't be too worried if a character absorbs some of your traits. Just remember that id you want the story and character to be good, don't make it you + 10000% more awesome because it looks like wish fulfillment and bogs down the story.
"JZ doesn't like romance flicks. She likes bloodthirsty carnage." - Imipolex G
10 Wolf106630th Mar 2011 11:58:04 PM from New Zealand , Relationship Status: In my bunk
Typin' strangely
I think most of my protagonists have many points in common with me - which points varies from character to character. It may be beliefs, outlook on life, certain skills, interests, hobbies, strengths, weaknesses, physical traits, family background - whatever is required to flesh out the character in a way that I can write easily and knowledgeably.

And a lot of other characters borrow traits, skills etc from people I know - I find it helps when imagining their reactions to things if I can imagine how my friends would react (then adjust the actions based on the capabilities of the character).

The thing is to ensure that the characters don't become to idealised or universe-bending. They're going to have faults, they're not going to be liked by everyone they meet (they may not even be liked by the readers), they're going to make mistakes. When they start being too good to be true and all the other characters swoon in lust or faint from proximity to greatness, then it's MS territory.

Dangerously Genre Savvy since ages ago...
11 Metalitia1st Apr 2011 11:25:48 PM from New York City
Transsexual needs <3
As someone who FREQUENTLY writes an Author Avatar, I would just like to caution you about it, using me as an example.
Any of my works about any of my Author Avatar characters veer WILDLY within the first hundred lines or so into nigh-unreadable territory, likely because even I can't believe that I'm like the way I'm writing myself (and not even in the Wish Fulfillment vein either). I'm not even putting myself down, either; I'm actually being objective about that assessment.

Basically, if you're going to put yourself into the shoes of the protagonist, be diplomatic about what parts of yourself you imbue your character WITH, because you don't want your story to be unreadable thanks to the sheer YOU-ness of the protagonist (then again, that's probably just me/only applies to me since I'm VERY screwed up in the head).
The Eternal Noob
As long as the traits aren't invasive and make sense in the context of the story, I see nothing wrong with this. Personally, I feel that if you can honestly admit to yourself that you're in danger of 'Stuing it up, you've already gone a long way towards preventing it. Just be careful.

I also seem to put a lot of myself into the (possibly-apocryphal) characters in my (possibly-apocryphal-and-certainly-never-to-be-published) stories. Amusingly, the guy that shared the most traits with me (who, by the way, is/was not my Marty Stu; that dubious honor goes to the relentlessly affable Tall, Dark, and Handsome Genius Bruiser God of Sex. There, I admitted it.) was also the guy I disliked most (prior to a major character overhaul). I'm... not sure what that means.
Was, is, and always will be in a passionate love affair with the semicolon.
Even IF he is completely you (and you said only really secondary traits) then include the flaws as well. But if they are not plot sensitive and only serve to flesh him out, then I wouldn't worry beyond the point of making sure they are consistent with his main personality traits (i.e. an assertive person won't be shy)

edited 2nd Apr '11 12:06:29 AM by jasonwill2

as of the 2nd of Nov. has 6 weeks for a broken collar bone to heal and types 1 handed and slowly
The Eternal Noob
Actually, slight question for the OP: are you putting in these traits intentionally?
Was, is, and always will be in a passionate love affair with the semicolon.
15 Morven2nd Apr 2011 03:03:43 AM from Seattle, WA, USA
The key, I think, is whether he feels like he's you when you're writing him or whether you can see him as an independent thing with his own nature.
A brighter future for a darker age.
Anything but artist
[up][up] At first it was easier to writte him intentionally this way since most of my characters share traits with people I know because it's easier to write people I know, but seems like at some point I forgot about this and simply took parts of me and into the character.

[up] As I said above, at first I was writting it the way I wanted, then it got a mind of his own and I started writting what I feelt he would do, not what I wanted him to do, but I guess that's a good thing.

edited 2nd Apr '11 8:39:46 AM by redpyro

I'm not a native english speaker, please forgive my bad grammar and misspells.
The Eternal Noob
[up] In that case, I'd say that you shouldn't worry too much. You at least seem to have some common sense regarding this, and I'd like to think that that goes a long way. As long as you recognize what can go in and what shouldn't (and it looks to me that you can), you should be fine.

[referring to one of your above posts] Honestly, I'm all for giving characters little quirks, as long as it goes with the narrative and doesn't make it slam on the brakes so it can inform us that BOB LIKES TO DANCE DANCE DANCE. Secondary traits like that can mean the difference between me liking a character and me actually being able to remember them after the story finishes.

edited 2nd Apr '11 10:15:38 AM by superfroggy

Was, is, and always will be in a passionate love affair with the semicolon.
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Total posts: 17