Tag: characters

The Truth About Fictional Character Obsession

Readers love to daydream about being whisked away to their favorite fictional worlds. But we also want to meet our favorite characters; to ask them questions about their lives, to become part of their world, to know them on a personal level. Such passion has led many a reader to what we might call a “character obsession” in which you relate so heavily to or love a character so much that they feel more real than some of the people you might know in real life.

So why do we relate so heavily to fictional characters, and why do we obsess over them and daydream about them?

 

Building, Apartment, Windows, People, Girl, Lady

Image by pixabay.com

 

We relate to them, and we want them to relate to us

 

The reason why urban fantasy is so popular is in part because it’s set in an urban setting like the ones we know. Urban fantasy is immediately relatable with the main characters living ordinary lives and dreaming about something more, just like all of us. But then, the unthinkable—something magical happens in their lives and they get the life we’ve always dreamed of. Suddenly they’re learning magic or venturing out on a dangerous space mission, and if we hope and think hard enough, maybe we’ll get there too.

 

Image result for escaping into a book

image by laura grace weldon

 

It’s an escape

 

On that note, when you’re reading a book, you want your favorite characters to win. You root for their success and when they do defeat the villain, that feels like a win for you, too, no matter what successes and failures you may be experiencing in real life. Not to mention the immersive settings of fantasy and science fiction books. Sure, fictional characters face their own challenges, but wouldn’t you much rather worry about defeating Voldemort than rent increasing? Fiction allows us to explore new ideas, settings, and even live alternate lives.

 

 

Bookish Problem #167 Having fictional characters as best friends.

image by someecards.com

They become like friends

 

If you spend enough time with someone, you know enough about them to call them your friend. You can recite funny things they’ve said, their favorite foods, and you know about their family. Every minute we spend reading a page is a few minutes with a friend, and we know everything about our fictional characters, too. That’s why we wear their quotes on T-shirts and jacket pins, and why we share their interests. If they were real, they really would be our friends.

 

Person Holding and Reading Book during Daytime

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Fiction increases empathy

 

Did you know that reading books increases empathy and social intelligence? If you can see a plot playing out in your mind while you read, you’re probably empathizing with your favorite characters, so you feel like you’re right there with them. When we read, we literally have to think from someone else’s perspective. We see what they see and feel what they feel. If you’ve ever felt like someone was stabbing you in the heart when your favorite character died, you know what I mean.

 

 

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Women in Literature Who Deserved Better Fates

Literature is full of countless incredible female characters, and many of them are able to make a mark on the worlds they inhabit. Some, though, aren’t so lucky. Some don’t get the happy endings they deserve. Let’s take a look at some wronged women from classic literature.

 

Lydia Bennet – Pride & Prejudice

 

Image via PandPvsLBD

 

Okay, so things work out a LITTLE less tragic for this version of Lydia, but overall she should’ve had more help. All those sisters, and no one to protect her from Wickham. She carries on a whole secret affair and actually runs away with him, and no one’s any the wiser. Lydia is only fifteen, and even though Wickham is eventually forced to marry her, basically satisfying everyone, she deserved so much better than that user. It’s honestly hard to watch. Know your value, girl!

 

 

Morgan Le Fay – Arthurian Legend

 

Image via Twitter

 

Morgan Le Fay has been reimagined countless times since her legendary origins, and it seems like every time she gets a little more evil. Sure, from the beginning she was ambiguous, and who could blame her? Of course, she was always ambiguous, but so were her motives. The supposed half sister of King Arthur, and possible lover of Merlin, it’s not clear how Morgan gained her powers. She’s married off almost as soon as Arthur is born. Nevertheless, she’s a powerful character, and doesn’t need to be vilified.

 

 

Ophelia – Hamlet

 

Image via Vulture

 

Ophelia is maybe the classic example. What did she ever do to anybody? Okay, so she isn’t perfect, but being constantly yelled at and gaslit by the rest of the cast would make anyone a little jittery. Sometimes Hamlet acts like he cares about her, sometimes he doesn’t. On several occasions he’s extremely, senselessly cruel. Her father is a little better. Ophelia just gets tossed around by the rest of the plot, trying to live her life when no one has the least interest in her. She deserved a lot better.

 

 

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Writers Confess Phrases They Overuse

John Boyne, legendary author of The Boy in the Striped Pajamas, tweeted today asking other writers if they’ve wrestled with phrases they overuse, and if so, what they are:

 

Are there writers who find themselves using the same lame phrases over and over & having to cut them? I'm terrible for "he hesitated for a moment, then looked away" & I've realised that my characters spend so much time shrugging that it's like their shoulders are on springs *crying laughing emoji*

 

If you’ve done any volume of writing, you can probably relate. Beyond a signature style, authors sometimes have words they use more often, or in this case, concepts and sentence pieces. A surprising number of them have to do with actions the characters are taking. The tweet got an enormous number of responses, causing the topic to trend on twitter. The whole thing gives the impression of characters doing things without the authors’ permission.

 

 

And I mean… they probably shouldn’t. But whether they’re blinking might not always be relevant. And she’s not the only one whose characters have gotten a little unruly.

 

 

Why won’t these characters hold still? Don’t they know what medium they’re in?

 

 

It isn’t always character wrangling, though. Sometimes the words won’t work. Or sometimes there are just too many of them.

 

 

Paraphrasing yourself is a lovely new take on the self drag. Though the original tweet’s tone was of amused annoyance, in some cases it devolved into actual advice, as though THAT’s going to change anything.

 

 

I mean, sure, you’re probably right, but sometimes a person’s gotta shrug. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯ Only when the moment’s right, I guess.

 

 

Featured image via ZDNet