They say it builds character

Hello again, Past Selves. Been working on my fiction lately.

The worldbuilding part comes easy for me. I’ve spent most of my life imagining amazing settings and universes. Usually placing myself in them, transformed into someone with incredible powers.

But I can’t write an entire story that way, even if I make my main character an author avatar. There have to be other people to interact with, and that’s usually where I run into trouble.

I’m not a people person. Asperger’s and social phobia make it very difficult for me to relate to other personalities, which inhibits my writing about them. I don’t want to end up with an entire novel populated with thinly veiled clones of myself! I’m not Heinlein. (Oh snap, I went there.)

So I’m doing my best to create characters different from myself. Studying personality types and psychology has not helped, it’s too clinical and impersonal. I need a fresh approach. Something to make the fictional creations seem more like real people, that readers can relate to, recognize, love, or hate.

I’ve done OK in the NPC department because they don’t need to be fleshed out deeply, but major characters are proving complicated, because people are complicated. Not that I’d want it any other way. Simple is boring and not really worth engaging with.

This story will involve the military, and as I’ve said in previous posts, I’m not familiar with military culture. I was also not really a social butterfly in college. Other people seemed a bit alien to me due to my (then undiagnosed) Asperger’s. But living in a dorm is still the closest I’ve come to experiencing life in a spaceship, crammed in with a bunch of college age kids new to adulthood and to living away from home.

I’ve got a fairly good handle on the main character’s foil/love interest, and made her a 3 dimensional person with a well developed persona and background. That’s one. But this is an ensemble piece. There’s a whole bunch of folks to develop before I can really dive into storytelling. And to do that I need to consider a lot of factors in who they are, how they fit into the story, and why the readers should want to read them; IE, how to make them interesting. To give them individual personalities. Which is as I pointed out, not my strength.

Up with people!


Author: mkferrante

Conquering mental illness one freakout at a time. Occasional writer, former artist, budding activist, would-be filmmaker. Basically a seething well of untapped potential.