The question for this month's Insecure Writers' Support Group is what personal traits have you written into your characters?
I guess there are a lot of people out there who are extremely self-assured, completely mentally stable, have no phobias, no PTSD, and are completely secure in the belief that their partner would surely never leave them because they are that extra swell.
I am not that person.
I don't write about those kinds of people, because I find it impossible to relate to them.
Anyway, such characters are called Mary Sue and Gary Stu, and they're boring.
I found out the hard way that people have a lot of misconceptions about those of us who are insecure and who may have a toy or two in the attic, a red under the bed, and a little yellow man in our head.
My story in the most recent WEP challenge featured a young vampire named Bernie. I'm not sure I ought to be saying the v-word because it might get me piled on again, but I'm feeling contrary, so I'll let my freak flag fly.
Bernie regains consciousness to find himself in a 5 x 5 windowless cell. Now, I guess nobody who read this story is claustrophobic, because many people wondered why Bernie was behaving as if his marbles had been taken away. The way Bernie was acting made perfect sense to me. I hate taking elevators because I'm always afraid the damn thing is going to get stuck, and I'm claustrophobic as anything.
So, Bernie behaved the way I would have behaved if I woke up to find myself in a 5 x 5 cell.
Now all you cool, calm and collected people know how a person who is claustrophobic behaves in a confined space. They freak the hell out.
Bernie's captors torment him psychologically, convincing him that his boyfriend, who is being held prisoner as well, sold him out for his own freedom and went off to be with a love interest from his past.
The myriad of self-assured individuals who read the story didn't understand when Bernie's doubts overwhelmed him and he broke down, assuming the worst. They assumed that Bernie, who is a character in his mid-twenties, must be a teenager, because, apparently, between the ages of 12 and 19, one is a tightly-wound, neurotic ball of quivering self-doubt, but once a person hits twenty, boom, they are completely secure in themselves and know that no-one would ever betray someone as stellarly flawless as they are.
I guess I must have missed out on this step in my evolution, because I'm thirty-four years beyond twenty, and my insecurities screwed up any relationship I had where I wasn't betrayed first. So, there you have it.
I wrote Bernie as being insecure and naive, but a teenager he isn't. He thinks the world of his boyfriend, a fellow who is actually worthy of his trust, and he tends to find it difficult to believe that he could deserve someone so awesome. He does, in fact, deserve all the awesomeness that comes his way. You see, Bernie is much nicer than I am. I'm kind of a defensive asshole.
Bernie isn't the only character who embodies my insecurities. All of my characters are broken in one way or another. You will never find a Mary Sue or Gary Stu in any of my Universes.