The Author as a Character

Again, a picture with exactly zero correlation to the title of this article. I know what you’re thinking: “Why does he have to keep doing this? Why can’t he just behave like a normal human being for once? Why is this guy so weird?” All great questions. However, like most great questions, they don’t have answers.

Ah, it’s good to be back in the saddle! After a week-long (and much-deserved, I might say…) vacation from blogging, I’m back with another (hopefully) entertaining article. Before we get to the content, however, I think that it’s fair to mention that I will be blogging six out of ever seven days in a week, my off-day being Sunday. The rest of the time, however, prepare to see the content flow!

Anyway, to the article…

The author as the character? If you’ve read much classic literature, you’d know that this phenomenon isn’t particularly uncommon, nor does it have to consist of breaking the Fourth Wall. This occurrence (that shall be heretofore named ASTC) Can be done subtly or obviously, but it happens more times that you may have guessed.

Take the classic writer Charles Dickens. People like to speculate ASTC in his famous novel The Tale of Two Cities. If you’ve ever read the book (or even watched the movie) it should be obvious: the character who is Dickens is either Sydney Carton or Charles Darnay. Some say that it’s both.

Here’s the case: Fact #1: (This is probably the most obvious one) Carton and Darnay are almost polar opposites in character, yet in appearance they are similar. Fact #2: They both love the same woman. Fact #3: Often, the strengths of one compliment the weaknesses of the other. Darnay is more innocent, less smart, but he sticks to his guns. Carton is far dirtier, bright as the sun, and is morally compromised.

The verdict? Charles Darnay and Sydney Carton are two halves of one person: that person is Charles Dickens. Heck, some people even want to say that Scrooge from A Christmas Carol is the dark side of Dickens, come to life and redeemed in the story, like it is portrayed in the film The Man Who Invented Christmas. (Excellent movie, by the way)

Whether you like it or not, all of your characters are a sliver (or carry a sliver) of one particular character–yours. Some more than others. Your heroes, just as well as your villains, could not have come to be without you breathing life into their deeds and words, either good or ill.

This is a “true whether you like it or not” kind of rule. But I’d never see it as a detriment or something to be avoided: just something to take seriously and not to belittle or take lightly. Some authors, however, take this to the extreme and actually insert themselves into the story. Not someone that merely resembles them–someone who is them. Hence, ASTC.

Of course, you’re now waiting for my old refrain: Should or Shouldn’t you insert yourself as a character into a book that you’re writing. Well, the point of pulling up the “characters are a sliver of YOUR character” rule was to say that such a thing cannot be avoided. In some way, shape, or form, you will be in the story.

But what about ASTC proper? What about personifying yourself in the story as a wise sage, a brave warrior, or a humble farmer? There is absolutely no problem with this. In fact, I would recommend it: writing is a form of play. What better play is there than to play in a world of your creation as a character of your own creation?

The You Character in the story is like your covert spy. He or she informs you of things you might not know about your characters, because your spy gives them occasion to tell about it. The characters then reveal greater and deeper depth of character through insightful dialogue, thus furthering the story and entertaining the reader.

Good luck, and happy writing!

Be sure to check out my latest novel, Book 1 in the Praetors of Lost Magic Series, and our Publications page. Until then, writers!


Published by Van Ghalta

A cold, dark, mysterious character who purposefully wrote a story so that he could fit into it...A story where he himself WRITES stories, practices martial arts, blogs, plays airsoft, collects MTG trading cards, plays outdated video games, and writes weird, third-person bios for himself...

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