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How Real Are Your Characters?

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How real are your characters to you?  Do they live and breathe and have a life of their own?  Or are they more or less creations that you don't feel any empathy towards?  I'm curious.

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Depends how in depth I have written them. I've written character's death that I cried while writing, and other that I felt nothing about, it was just part of the story. I guess it really just depends on the character, and how attached I get to them. 

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I don't particularly get very attached to them. I don't have a problem with killing off my MC right now if that is the case. (which I haven't decided yet)  They do have a very annoying habit, though, of keeping me awake at night and making me hate them at certain times. 🙄

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When I was writing my Joseph book, I literally got depressed and couldn't write for days after he was sold as a slave. 

 

I've also said: "I'm sorry, ______," out loud before I'm about to "do" something bad to an MC. It's almost like I have to take a breath and prepare for it. Heh. 

 

As I've said before, I've also had a character who was supposed to be dead offscreen at the beginning of a story barge up and proceed to tell me in no uncertain terms that he would in fact be very much alive and also be a main character, thank you very much. I've had other characters "make" sudden decisions as well, though not as drastic.

 

Now, this isn't an everyday occurrence for me, and it doesn't happen with every character. But I do have empathy towards a lot of my characters and some seem to have an odd life of their own in certain moments. 

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The thing that got me back writing was the fact that I had Jude, Frankie & Cora the main characters in my first book, Demons, walking around inside my head and they just would not go away. The only way I could clear my head was to write their story down.

 

As the story progressed the 'writer' in me kicked in and by the time I had finished the first draft I could put some distance between myself and them.

 

Like  @PenName some characters make decisions that I had not planned but often are the right ones for them so I work around them. I felt bad when something happens to one of my characters but the story takes priority.

 

At the moment I am feeling lost as I have now finished the Sphinx trilogy (a part from tweaking the final book) but I also know I need to give myself some time before I work on a new book and create new characters otherwise I will be in danger of creating similar rather than new characters.

 

 

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I’d like to think my characters are realistic and relatable, but I can’t say I’m particularly emotionally attached to them. I like writing about them, that’s all.

 

Except I do remember feeling a moment of sadness/reluctance, when I realized one of my somewhat major characters has to die...

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I'm leery about getting too carried away with any of this. I'm a storyteller writing pictures of people into existence in your mind's eye, that's all. Authors who believe their characters become real (and a know a few of these) are skirting dangerously close to idolatry in my opinion, and that's farther than I'm prepared to go. I have a unique ability to tell stories but I don't want to cross the line into error. I know what I am and what I do, and I am content.

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46 minutes ago, Johne said:

Authors who believe their characters become real (and a know a few of these) are skirting dangerously close to idolatry

Ok, I see your point. 

 

Personally, I didnt take this as a literal question. We all know it's just a story, and they are not real. I took the question to mean more, how much do you allow yourself to feel the emotions of your story/for your characters as you write your stories? Does emotions/feeling have an impact on the way you write things? For me, the answer is yes. I want to feel as I write because I believe it helps me to communicate what the characters are going through better. 

 

But no, at no time do they come to life. It is just a story. 

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I guess my characters become a little more real when I give them a name. They coalesce from a description into a “someone.” 
Another area they have more realism is when I write them a smart alec line and I laugh at it because they got one over on another character. 

Of course they never become flesh and bones real to me. Ive felt a little bad for their life situation, but their “existence” is only letters on a page. I think we all know this though. 

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Agree. We all know they’re not real. It’s just a little like being able to surprise your own self, which is fun. 😁

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I want to create characters that are real to the story. I consider them a main ingredient to the overall plot recipe, like flour is to bread, so I try not to skimp on quality. I use a character-building template, which helps me to define relevant physical and psychological characteristics. This is so I can both understand a character and apply them in a consistent way.

 

Many of them become real to me, but not to the extreme whereby I start talking to them, or go into a deep depression if one of them is hurt (or killed). However, I think feeling empathy towards them is important, because if I don't, it'll show in my writing. Readers won't care about them as much.

 

       

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There is much of me in my characters. in that sense they are real and I "feel" them.  If my emotions are not engaged, I can't expect my readers' emotion to be engaged. 

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They're just figments of my, ...

 

Hey, get back over here and pick up that mess. Just cause I wrote it there doesn't mean you can ignore it.  

 

What was I saying, oh yea, figments of my imagination and have no place in the real world. 

 

 

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They're real enough for me to pen their most significant life event that may or may not be true. Sometimes I feel like a biographer...or rather an agent trying to make their story known...even if they're fictional. It's fun to pretend their story could exist in real life.

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