Wednesday, June 23, 2010

When Characters Become Friends

As writers, we live with our characters for a long time.  We talk to them, eat with them, shower with them, run errands with them.  They become a part of us.  So, when that novel is finished, revised (numerous times),submitted (over and over), rejected (poor little manuscript), and then tucked away in a drawer or a box, it leaves writers - this writer, anyway - feeling just a little lonely.

But what about when you're not the writer?  What if you're the reader?  Writing a book, sure, that takes months or years but reading a book only takes days or weeks.  How you can feel sad or lonely after such a short period of time?

Believe me, you can.  The other day, I finished reading The Passage by Justin Cronin.  The book is over 700 pages, so I spent quite awhile with it.  I got to know Amy and Lacey and Wolgast and Peter and Alicia and Maus and...well, you get the picture.  I closed the book, told my husband a bit about it, then went about making dinner.  All of a sudden, I felt...bereft.  I missed my "friends."

I read a lot of books, and the good ones are good for different reasons, but the ones that stick with me the longest, the most, are the ones where the characters become so real that if I lift my eyes from the page, they could be standing in front of me.  (Of course, there are some characters you don't want anywhere near you...)

It's one thing to miss your characters as a writer, but to be able to make your readers miss them also?  That takes not only skill, but also true passion, true heart.

Any other writers and/or readers feel the same?  What are/were books that made you feel that way?


  1. Oh, yeah, I've fallen for characters in a book. I think that's what makes a series a mega-seller. The plots have to be good, of course, but it's the characters we miss-and the characters that keep us coming back!

  2. For me, I'll keep reading a so-so plot with good characters more so than I will continue reading a good plot with boring/flat/unlikable characters.