My love affair with characters started way before I knew what an impact they would have on my life. But that doesn’t matter when you’re so involved in what’s happening while you’re reading that not even an earthquake will bother you. I honestly can’t remember how old I was then I first started reading books on my own and really think about the world I found myself in. I do remember the first book that made an impact on me. Not as a writer, but as a reader with an insane imagination. The type of reader that could imagine the things happening in the story, happening in real life.
The book that started everything for me was a YA novel called Memoirs of a Dangerous Alien by Maggie Prince. At that age, I must have been eleven or so, I imagined myself completely in love with Dominic and the alien adventures he was having. To date it’s the book I’ve reread the most and I don’t even own it(library). I can’t remember if the writing was anything spectacular or the plot well done, but I remember the characters and the way they made me feel. Like anything is possible. Like my neighbor could be an alien, or if I pull at my ear a communication device will activate. Now that I’m all grown up I miss that feeling, BUT I get to channel the longing for that feeling into something else.
All my novels are first person and character driven. I get to be my main characters and indirectly experience all their adventures, the good and the bad of it, through them. They steer the story by the choices and decisions they make, most of them usually bad ones, because where would the fun be in doing everything right the first time round? Even the second time around? What’s not to love about that! Dropping them into hot water and telling them to go left when they should go right. Those are some of my favorite moments.
I’m very single so I have a lot of love to give. I pour all that extra love into my characters and the lives/worlds I build for them. But then again, you have to love your characters, even the bad guys, if you’re going to spend between 65k-75k words with them. Then you have to see them through rewriting, revisions, editing, critiques. Rinse. Repeat. If I’m lucky, my characters love me back. Because all the love I’m pouring into my manuscripts isn’t for free, they have to work for it. Just like any normal relationship.
The same goes for any novel I’m reading. The characters have to work to get me to love them It isn’t an instant thing. When I read I like to imagine, even if just for as long as I read the book, that those characters are real. The best part of putting that last sentence out there, is that you guys won’t think I’m completely insane for saying that.
Based on all of that, and yes I did tone it down a bit, I’m not at all reluctant to admit that I see no end to the character love affair I started so many years ago. Why would I when it keeps things so interesting? Of course they make me work for it as well. I suffer with them, rejoice with them, and scold them when they do things they aren’t supposed to(this goes for writing as well but instead of scolding them, I grin and ask ‘is that all you’ve got?’).
I know all of you have character love. Share some of it, be it your own or somebody from a favorite novel.