JUST Characters in a Book

I finished a book tonight, third in a series,  closed it, wiped away the last tear, sniffed and promptly wrote “Why do I like books that make me cry?” on my Facebook.  So then, of course, I had to start wondering about it.

When it comes to literary works, I guess I am kind of a slut.  I’m very much a “love the one you’re with” person, in terms of book characters.   When I read, I get attached.  It’s how I can judge if I really liked a book, by how much I care about what happens to the characters.   If I don’t care what happens, I’m really not into the book; but, that doesn’t happen often.  Generally, I form deep emotional bonds to, and yes, with the characters.  In a well-crafted story, I feel what the characters are feeling, go through their joy and despair, love and anguish with them.  I have been known to talk, mutter, and yell at books, to argue with them, and even to throw them across the room (or car).  I laugh out loud, answer questions, make predictions or hold mumbled monologues when I have to walk away from the book.  And, yes, I cry.  People who know me, have learned it is necessary to just ignore me when I am reading.  Some people just don’t get it.  After all, they say, they’re just characters in a book.

Just characters in a book.  On one level, that’s true.  But coming from a writer’s perspective, I know that, to the author, they’re not.  To the author, they are important, living, breathing (as long as their species is supposed to breathe) creatures, not the same as real people, but real in their own way.  As a writer, I know how entwined I am in my characters’ lives.  Even when I am not writing regularly, not a day goes by in which I don’t think of them, run scenes from their lives in my mind, wonder where we will go next with the story.  I care about what happens to them.  I care about their joy and their pain.  They are important to me and because they are real, and important, I want others to care about them, too.  So, when a book makes me laugh, rant, throw items, or cry, the author has done his or her job, because the characters have become as important, as alive and as real to be as they are to the author.   I would not get so emotionally involved if I didn’t care, and I wouldn’t care if they weren’t real to me.  And if they aren’t real, and I don’t care, then I don’t like the book.  So, in truth, the only books I DO like are the ones that make me cry, or at least have the potential to make me cry.  What a twisted literary circle.

Here’s hoping that someday, I can make all my readers weep!


~ S.D. Bullard


~ by sdbullard on July 2, 2013.

3 Responses to “JUST Characters in a Book”

  1. I can’t help getting attached to characters, sometimes more than real people even 😉 When you read a book, you get so immersed in the whole of a character, you almost become them.

    • It’s so true. So, of all the characters you have read, who did you become the most, or who are you most like?

      • Hmm, that’s a hard question. The answer will probably change by tomorrow, but as a kid I read the Merlin series by T.A. Barron and those books definitely affected me deeply, to where I still think about them today.

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