Novel Writing: Should your protagonist be autobiographical?

Photo Credit: Cinderella in Combat Boots

I’ve written extensively about the fact that my protagonist from my first book is me. He’s more funny and probably smarter, but he’s still me. I’ve also read blog posts and articles in the past that say the practice of creating a fictional character who takes after the author is not all that uncommon, especially when it comes to first books. Two authors who come to mind when I think of this practice are Sue Grafton and JK Rowling. Sue Grafton and her fictional California-based PI are one in the same. I believe, though I’m not checking right this second, that JK Rowling and Harry Potter share a birthday.

My reasoning for doing this had only to do with the fact that I felt it would make the story better. I wanted to put myself in Andrew’s shoes every step of the way during that first case. I wanted him to face some internal dilemma that couldn’t be seen from the surface. I wanted him to be real. And I wanted the reader to be able to relate to him. I have no idea how well I was able to do this in my first book, but it was constantly on my mind as those 21 chapters were written.

So now you know that Andrew Banks is really just John Guillen in disguise, but what about you? Have you written a protagonist who perhaps shares some characteristics with you? Or who maybe shares something like a birthday with you? Tell me!

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