Not My Story: Author vs. Character

Not My Story: Author vs. Character

My first novel, Sketchy Tacos, is coming out on Feb. 7! This has been a three-year-long passion project of mine. Ever since I traveled to Mexico for the first time, I knew I had to write a book set there. The world of Mexico was so different from the stereotypes I’d heard. It was beautiful and vibrant, full of life and culture. And I just had to share.

But the moment I tell people that the book is about a sheltered, Indiana teen traveling to Mexico for the first time, they say, “So it’s about you, right?”

The answer is a resounding, no. I am not my novel. Sure, Mila and I share some characteristics, but I am not her, and this is not my story… at least, not in the way the questioner envisions.

Breakout novels carry with them a piece of the author. Great authors work out their issues through their characters, and the character struggles are all the more profound, realistic, and touching because of them. Author vs. character is an ever-present balancing act. Sketchy Tacos carries my struggles with perfectionism. But none of the events or Mila’s background are mine.

For writers, this is an important distinction.

I’ve seen too many writers get stuck because “it really happened that way.” Just because it happened, doesn’t mean it would make an interesting book. No one wants to read about how much of my year in Mexico was spent sitting on the couch writing or watching Netflix because I did not have a car to get me anywhere. Not an interesting story. So I created one that was.

Of course the amazing sights I saw and the tall tales I heard inspired and effected the story–in the same way that everything I see and hear effects my writing. But that doesn’t mean it’s autobiographical.

Especially–as my mom would want me to point out–not the relationship with the mother. Mila and her mom’s relationship is nothing like me and my mom’s relationship. Love you Mom! (She was a little worried about that.)

The story is mine in sense that I spent hundreds of hours writing, rewriting, editing, and molding the characters so that they’re someone you might mistake for a real person. So if someone reads it and asks me that, in a way, I’ll be flattered because it means I must have done something right.

Have you ever read a book where the character seems so real, you think they might be? If so, what book was it because it sounds awesome! If you’re a writer, have you struggled with the distinction between author vs. character? Where do you draw the line of like you verses unlike you? 

Love, Meg D. Gonzalez

By | 2016-11-21T16:45:28+00:00 November 23rd, 2016|Character Development, My Journey|6 Comments

About the Author:

I'm a tea-sipping, adventure-seeking, pug-loving kind of girl. I'm crazy for God and want to share his love with awesome girls around the globe.


  1. Laura Starner November 24, 2016 at 12:02 pm - Reply

    Congrats on Sketchy Tacos being published soon. It sounds like a exciting read.

  2. Joanna Alonzo November 24, 2016 at 9:35 am - Reply

    I can totally relate to this. As a writer, I feel like every character I write – whether protagonist or antagonist – has a little bit of me and my world view in them. I think that’s unavoidable, but I don’t think I ever will create a character – especially main ones – wholly based on a real person, much less myself. They are their own person. Any semblance to real people are coincidental. I wish more people understand that.

    Congratulations on the book! Love the title!

  3. Esther November 24, 2016 at 6:25 am - Reply

    Ummmm, well, ‘A voice in the wind’ series has amazing realistic characters – they were so real to me that I was very depressed when I finished the books! Lol! The other book is ‘wings of the morning’ and ‘Joseph a novel.’ Highly recommend them.
    I haven’t struggled with character verses myself – But – I did shed a few tears when my character lost her grandpa – I never met mine so writing about his character brought a lot of pain & I learnt heaps about me!

    • Megan Gonzalez November 24, 2016 at 6:41 am - Reply

      That’s awesome Esther! Those are the best kind of characters. I’ve got the Voice in the Wind series at home. I’ll have to read them soon.

      Writing those kind of scenes can be tough, but digging into those deep emotional places can produce amazing scenes. I can’t wait to read your novel! I wish you all the best in your writing 🙂

  4. Loretta Lavelle November 23, 2016 at 9:57 pm - Reply

    Anxious to read Sketchy Tacos – yes Mexico is beautiful, always loved our trips there.

    • Megan Gonzalez November 24, 2016 at 6:28 am - Reply

      Thanks Loretta! I’m anxious for it to be published. It’s very exciting. Where have you visited in Mexico?

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