As a reader, I know how invested I can become in characters. Perhaps just as much, if not more so, with video games. I’m not ashamed to admit that a certain character’s death in Final Fantasy 7 brought me to tears.
“But they aren’t real,” I’ve heard some people tell me. “How can you feel so close to someone who doesn’t exist? It’s ridiculous.”
Is it? Sure they aren’t physically real, sure they don’t have minds of their own, but does that make our attachments to them ridiculous? I don’t think it does.
As a writer, there’s an added level to that attachment towards my own characters. Maybe that sounds strange in and of itself, but its true. I mean there have been characters that I didn’t feel anything towards one way or another, but later on when I read those same stories, I realized that I didn’t develop those characters, and I wrote them poorly.
The truth is that when you invest so much imagination, so much time into developing those characters, both in your head and on paper, they earn a place in your heart as if they were real. Or at least, they do for me.
Tonight, as I wrote chapter 17 of Chronicles of the Sentinel, I realized that I felt a little guilty about what I was putting Emmi through. As I wrote what I think is going to be one of the most powerful chapters of the novel, I realized that I often put my characters through hell, as I think most writers do.
Which also brings me to another point – this special place in our hearts that our own characters have, it isn’t a bad thing. Quite the opposite. Why? Because when our characters feel something, we feel it. It’s that emotional barrier thing I wrote about in a previous blog article.
When we feel the emotions we want our characters to feel, I think a couple of wondrous things happen. First, we’re able to more accurately write what is happening. If we’re feeling it, we can describe our emotions and make them the character’s. Second, this helps our characters come alive. It makes them more real not just to the readers, but to ourselves. They turn from two-dimensional characters to three-dimensional characters, figuratively speaking.
To all of my fellow writers out there reading this, do you have this same experience? What about readers? How attached do you find yourself becoming to characters in the novels you read?
Chronicles of the Sentinels Update
As I mentioned, I finished up chapter 17 tonight. It was actually relatively short at only 5 pages, but it is one that resonates, and accomplishes a lot of things in such a short span.
Here are the statistics so far:
Word Count: 49,473
Page Count: 152
Chapter 17 puts me past the two-thirds mark for the novel. Which means that while I had fallen behind before, I am now ahead of schedule again! :D
Thanks for reading, and please, if you haven’t already, check out my facebook author’s page, and give it a follow while you’re at it! :)