Do you sometimes feel that most of your main characters are different versions (or reincarnations!) of one character that you’ve already created before and wrote about? For example – are all your female protagonists the copy of a protagonist who is introverted and comes from a small village?
If yes, then you are probably wondering: “Is it bad?”
No. It’s not bad.
Most readers won’t notice anyway. A reason for that is that readers seldom read all books that an author has released. And if they do, and the characters are similar, this is seen as something good. It creates a feeling that the author knows what they are doing and that there is a pattern in their writing. It shapes reader’s expectations and if they come to your books and get what they were expecting – you get bonus points. Which mean mostly reader’s loyalty and even more great reviews.
You are allowed to express yourself through the same character as many times as you want. It’s not wrong. And nobody can take it away from you. In fact, there are famous writers who keep writing about the same kinds of characters over and over again – like Gabriel Garcia Marquez and Haruki Murakami.
Let’s dive deeper into the phenomenon of the reincarnating character.
“I first created Ann, then Anabel, then Anette. Now I’m tempted to write about Annice. Why does it happen?”
The reason for this is that the original character (in this case: Ann) feels particularly close to you and like I’ve mentioned before, is a preferred channel of expression for you. You have so much to say through this one character, that you recycle them over and over again to be able to tell even more. Recycling of characters happens especially when you’ve chosen NOT to write a series. Protagonists of a series seldom return to you as you had plenty of time and space to express what you wanted through them.
When we create a character, we don’t realize how important they could become in the future. Very often, we realize that their life was too short after we’ve finished working on their story. And so, we write a new story about someone similar, and jump into the boat with that character again, ready for a new journey.
Sometikes, third person characters change to incredibly important characters in your mind, and become the main characters in another project.
You probably have more reincarnating characters that you are aware of:
Sometimes, you will want to perpetuate the life of a secondary or tertiary character consciously. I’ll give you an example: it’s that mean ex, whose name, looks and personality isn’t important, but she’s there to ruin your hero’s romance. Or, it’s that good hearted uncle who appears out of nowhere to help the main character out of trouble each time they get into it. The face and attire might be different, but deep down it’s always the same character, who, like an actor, plays similar roles in various theaters.
Now take a moment to think: how many times have you used the stereotype of a beggar, a bus driver or a doctor?
I am asking you not to blame you, but to point out for you, that by facilitating our work over and over again, we do recreate the same characters without even being aware.
In order to change this pattern, you need to focus on the character creation more and force yourself to invent original characters instead of taking the easy path. It might be a huge challenge, especially if you write a lot and create characters constantly. I’ll try to write more articles about characters so as to help you.