I remember back in the day, reading books where horrible things happened to the characters, and I would think, “Is a writer affected by their own work? Do they cry when something bad happens to their character and laugh when something good does?”
Now, I don’t presume to speak for all writers, but as I was writing a scene for a new book recently, a scene where something horrible happens to one of my characters, and I started crying while writing it, I thought back on this unanswered question from long ago, and I finally had my answer. Yes, they do. Or at least I do. Even though I was the one writing the pain in my character’s journey, there I was sniffling and wiping away tears. You see, I connect so fully with my characters that I feel as they do. When something really funny happens to my character, I find myself skipping about my house, or the grocery store, or wherever else I may be. If I’m writing a scene in my head while in public, I’ll have a secret smile or scowl to go with it. One only I understand.
People have asked me at times why I’m so sad; if I’m having a bad day. And I’ve blurted, “No! But my poor character! Her boyfriend just cheated on her!” Or they’ll ask what’s so funny, and I’ll say, “Oh, my character is just so silly. You won’t BELIEVE what they did.” As though they’re human. And real. I empathize with them. Does that make me crazy? Probably. But really, I think it’s a mark of a good character. If I can cry, let a scene ruin my day, or make it put a smile on my face for hours, then hopefully it has that same effect on my readers. Because what is worse than having a reader not connect with my characters? I want them to cry with them, to laugh with them, to be angry or frustrated with them. I want my readers to be able to really feel that my character is a real person they can empathize and sympathize with. I don’t know if I accomplish that, but I know I do for me. And really, as I write these books basically for me, then I realize I’ve accomplished what I set out to do, and to me, that’s the most important thing of all.
- Write it now: how to make readers feel what you do when writing (mjwrightnz.wordpress.com)
- Further NaNo Prep: Setting Up Markers (nepheletempest.wordpress.com)
- What’s Your Character? (starjetadventures.com)
- Fiction Writing: Top Character Creation (agzalens.wordpress.com)