What Our Characters Say About Us

(Reed’s Playlist for the Occasion: Just What I Needed by the Cars)

Today I made a new character for a brand-new D&D campaign one of my friends is starting. (Yeah, I know, that means I’m a part of 6 ongoing campaigns right now. #addicted)

Anyway, I was creating this character and reflecting upon how the characters we create as writers can say a lot about who we are as people. Like, for instance, in The Oasis, there’s a bit of me in both Terjjen and Olienna as characters – I identify both with Terjjen’s indignation and Olienna’s positivity and (let’s be honest) naivete.

It seems to me when I’m writing that most of my characters end up being one or two characteristics of me taken to extremes, or those characteristics injected into a “stock” archetypal character like the war-ravaged veteran or the sunny, innocent child. That way, especially with D&D, it never feels particularly difficult to act as that character because in some way, they’re like a piece of me.

But I think it’s even more interesting to see how our characters, and really our writing in general, reflect upon what we’re currently going through as people. If I take things all the way back to when I first started writing semi-seriously in the beginning of college, the characters and themes in my work both reflected upon that kind of coming-of-age, “learning to take my life in my own hands” mentality that I was developing in college.

Contrast that to now, when so many of my short stories are about social justice issues – The Oasis dealing with race and prejudice, Needs-Be-Met about my contempt with the political process, and my most recent writing project, Symphony of Legend, attempting to tackle several issues like mental health and mental illness misconceptions, the impact of humans on the environment, and the struggles of survivors of sexual abuse. Clearly, the things that are foremost on my mind are finding their way into my writing.

I know this is kind of obvious, but it’s kind of cool to me to look back through my writings and see my development as a person – like my whole psychological growth track in a series of books and stories.

And it also is kind of cool to consider classic literature in the same way – like, if Orwell hadn’t been born around WWII era, 1984 may never have come out. Times like this, when I imagine this immense chain of events leading to some really cool books, are the only times when I actually find history interesting.

Er… sorry, historians.

But I have a challenge for YOU, other writers. I challenge you to reflect upon your most recent writing projects, and try to examine what the stories and the characters have to say about you – your mental state, what you’re struggling with, what you find important. If you discover something interesting, I’d love to hear about it in the comments!

“See you in the funny pages, Mr. Stromboli Bones.” – Dunkey

Yours, preparing his mind to be blown by Breath of the Wild,

-R.R. Buck


2 thoughts on “What Our Characters Say About Us

  1. I like it mainly because it allows me to get into the head of a character without having to worry about telling the story myself, or vice versa. Being able to focus on just one aspect of a story has totally let me hone in on what I do well and what I need to improve.


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