Characters are the best.
There may be some people out there who don’t understand this, but… I would say all readers and writers have developed a bond with certain characters they hold near and dear to their hearts. Like Harry from William Sleator’s Singularity—I get the whole sibling-angst thing because, well, I have an older sister and it’s not always sunshine and gumdrops. Or “Gabriel” and Bubba from Julie Gonzalez’s Imaginary Enemy. Those characters resonated with me because I used to have an imaginary frenemy (and he still resurfaces sometimes… DON’T LOOK AT ME LIKE THAT).
But, hey. Characters that resonate with readers are real to their writers. My theory, of course. But how do they become “real” to the writer? By fleshing them out. Making them real. It’s one of the most EXCITING parts of storytelling, I think. I’d actually say about half of my writing time goes to spending quality time with my characters. This includes thinking about them, a lot (when I’m driving, eating, sleeping… yeah, they’ve even shown up in my dreams). Scouring Pinterest and other image searches to find the perfect representation of them, all in the interest of helping me visualize them better. Filling out character questionnaires about anything from their height and weight to their first childhood memory. Interviewing them, one-on-one as well as in groups.
I even give my characters birthdays. Really. Even these minute details that some might see as unnecessary. I do it because I want to make them as real to me as I possibly can. I do crazy stuff like associating stuff I own (like clothes, books and instruments, among other things) with my characters, as a tangible inspiration for them. I talk to them in Word documents like they’re actual people, because to me they are (… not crazy… you know what I mean). A specific example: I have a character who likes Dr. Pepper, so sometimes when I’m out to eat and I’m thinking of him I order a glass. I do this stuff. And the characters that I’ve fleshed out up to this point have birthdays. I even have a calendar:
Just a quick handy reference guide, just in case it ever comes up in one of my stories. And even if it doesn’t, it’s nice to have that reminder to think about them a little on their special day. I’ve actually pondered having a monthly celebration for all of my characters that have birthdays in any given month. I’ll be having a cake today anyway because I get to turn twenty *totally unenthusiastic yay* *curls up in corner and dies* … *comes back to life to finish post* So I might consider giving a toast for my characters with March birthdays too. Because characters are the best. Without them there’d be no reason to write, or to read. They deserve to be celebrated!
So happy birthday to my lovelies: Sabine, Dev, River and Patty! You’re all nuts, and I love ya 🙂
… Not a teenager anymore… *dies again*
I gotta know: what fictional character have you felt the strongest bond with lately, and which book/movie/whatevs are they from?