A Peek into My Journal: Stripped

Published May 8, 2012 by Jennifer Elizabeth

 Do you create characters that reflect you as a person or you as the child you once were?  What inspires your character development?

Once upon a time there was a little girl who loved to make her friends laugh, who loved to play with barbies, and who loved her Teddy Ruxpin doll.  She wanted to be a singer when she grew up and would wail out 80’s tunes by Madonna, Alias, and Firehouse.  Her favorite songs were “More Thank Words Can Say” and  “When I’m With You” by Alias.   Listening to 8o’s love ballads was her favorite way pass the time.  Yes, she was a grade-A love sap.  She believed in best friendships and finding true love with all her heart.

When she was in grade school, all she ever wanted was for her best girlfriends to stick together and remain true friends.  She and her girlfriends formed a  special, secret “girls club” based on the Beverly Hills 90210 series.  Each friend was paired as one of the characters from the TV show.  She wanted to be Kelly Taylor because Kelly was beautiful.  Kelly looked like a Barbie doll.  But her friends paired her to Andrea Zuckerman, the dork with the frizzy dark hair.  Apparently, she looked more like Andrea.

As she and her friends grew closer to entering middle school, things began to change.  One of her friends moved away and it broke the little girl’s heart.  Although the move was only miles away, the school would be different.  Another friend decided she wanted to be  more popular in middle school.  She said she was going to get “new friends” the following year. The little girl’s heart broke again.

Sadly, as the little girl grew older, she realized that friendships were harder to maintain than anything else.  Harder than writing a rocking essay on Sir Gawain and The Green Knight.  Harder than trying out for a role in her high school performance of  A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum.  Harder than accepting the fact that she was one of the shortest kids in her class and would always be one of the shortest kids in her class.

The little girl tried her best to keep her chin up when her closest friends would blow her off for their “cooler” friends.  She tried to shake off the feeling that she was always going to be second best at some point. But eventually she decided it was just not worth the fight any longer. She was done with friendships.

When she was 17 she finally gave up.  She had been burned too many times by friends who chose new friends and left her.  She decided she’d keep excelling in school, participate in the activities she loved, but only maintain “in school friendships'”.  It was just easier that way.  She had built up a wall to protect herself and it remained intact for the remainder of her high school years.

She would escape to her dream world at night and try to will perfect dreams.  It was just easier to create an escape and live through those magical imaginary dream moments.  The perfect dream where her best friend was a boy who would fight for her tooth and nail.  He would protect her from getting her feelings hurt.  He would always choose her.

If only her dreams were real.

“We see but in dreams the ideal.”  Henri Cazalis, “Always”

Once upon a reality, that little girl was me. Welcome to my world, stripped down for your wandering eyes and curious thoughts.  And no, I’m not crazy.  I just loved my imagination and wished that my dreams were closer to reality.  And now, as an adult, I know that I can recreate my dreams through words in my own novel.

A few nights ago I began watching the ABC Family Series, Jane by Design.  In the show, Jane is the awkward high school girl who gets to live her dreams when given the opportunity to work for a fashion company.  Although mistaken as an adult instead of the intern, she finds ways to cover up her secret, and her best guy friend, Billy, helps to keep her secret no matter what the cost.  Billy is always there for Jane. Billy always picks Jane.  And in the end, Billy realizes he loves Jane.

As I watched the series and the storyline progressed, I realized that I was watching my old dreams.  I had always imagined myself as the dorky girl, but the one who had an incredible best friend to keep her heart from breaking.

This is exactly what I want to portray in my novel–the ability to transfer dreams to real life and to find the soul mate you see in your dreams in real life.

This is why I am writing my first Young Adult novel about dreams and dream catchers, and escaping real life through dreams.

I have begun the research process about dream catchers–how, why and by whom they were created.  The dream catcher will be my portal, my link  that connects dreamland to real life.

My main character’s experiences will reflect bits and pieces of my childhood experiences, but she will have a much greater need to utilize dreams as an escape and means of connecting them to her real life.

A concluding question for all authors and writers:

Do you create  characters that reflect you as a person or you as the child you once were?  What inspires your character development?

I’d love for you to share your responses with me.


6 comments on “A Peek into My Journal: Stripped

  • I love this and can totally relate to it. I remember working on a short story a year ago about a nine-year-old girl on the Titanic. It was really funny– I remember writing down her character and then realizing she was exactly like me when I was nine! I love your novel
    idea– can’t wait to hear more=)

    • Thank you so much for sharing your story, Annie. =) I love discovering how and why other writers develop their own characters and what personal past experiences may influence their own character development. For me, at least, it seems as though my own novel writing consists of past experiences and things I “wished” had happened when I was younger. I may not have been able to control a lot of my childhood experiences, but I can create them exactly the way I want to in my stories…and that is the beauty of writing for yourself. =)

  • Definatly! Haha, even when something’s not going “the way I want to,” I think its fun to write about the situation the “way it should be”=)

  • I can relate to a lot of this as I went through similar friendship situations as a child and grew up thinking I would always be second best. I was always reading or making up stories/worlds of my own to escape to. So I’m really drawn to your novel idea and look forward to reading it one day! As for my characters… most of my main characters have some part of me in them, mixed together with bits that are very much not me (and sometimes bits that I wish were part of me!). I think the female main character in my current novel is probably the most like me of all the characters I’ve written so far. She shares a lot of my insecurities, etc. But again, there are also many aspects to her that are not like me at all. I’m not really sure what inspires my character development… most of the time they just take on lives of their own and seem to tell me where their lives/characters are going rather than me dictating their paths to them. 🙂

    • Sarah, thank you so much for checking out my blog and commenting 🙂 . I get giddy when I see a new message pop up. I’m still in that “newby” stage, haha! I love how many authors, including yourself, talk about characters taking on lives of their own. This truly makes the writing process so much more exciting…the characters become real in the writer’s mind, despite the fact that it is fiction writing.

      After all, if the one creating the character doesn’t believe it, then why would the reader? It is all about the imagination and where you take it from there! =)

      • I’m still at that newbie stage too — I get so excited when there’s a new post on my blog! 🙂

        “if the one creating the character doesn’t believe it, then why would the reader?” That’s so very true! 🙂

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