Why We Care About Fictional Characters

When this was posted over at A Farewell to Sanity, I knew I had to share it with you lovely readers. I really have nothing to add; I’ll just let the post itself do the talking.

Happy reading!

Miriam Joy Writes

It’s funny the way we care about fictional characters. I mean, we know they’re not real, but something inside us cares what happens to them. We want Frodo to destroy the ring without getting killed; we want Jack to let Owen back on the Torchwood team; we want Sherlock not to fall. It matters to us.

Why does it matter to us?

Fictional characters are fictional. They don’t exist, they really don’t. Often, however, they outlive their authors. Walk up to a random person in the street (not one wearing fake ears, the LotR fandom do not count in these circumstances), and say ‘Gandalf’. See what they say. Now walk up to someone else, equally randomly, and say, ‘JRR Tolkien’. You can imagine the responses you’d get, can’t you?

It’s partly because there have been films, and the Lord of the Rings has permeated our culture quite deeply, but there’s…

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Got Story?

I’m back from camp, everyone!

So that means we will now return to our regular programming.

Thank you.

Last night there was a documentary about the life of J.K. Rowling on TV.  First of all, that woman is amazing, having gone from where she was to being the richest woman in the world.  Secondly, one line in particular struck me.  Ms. Rowling (or at least the actress portraying her) said that she was writing, but she hadn’t found the right story yet.

This is true for all writers.  Or at least for me.  We all write stories, but we are all trying to find The Story, that one plot idea, that one character, that one essence that sparks our imagination.  We write to find The Story.  We search for it for years, and when we do find it, we know it.

The first edition of Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone was turned down by maybe a dozen publishers before Bloomsbury finally saw sense.  The world might not like The Story, but that’s okay.  We like it.  We love it.  We know that this will be our masterpiece, what we point to when people ask what we’ve written.

Did you know Sir Arthur Conan Doyle grew to hate his own Sherlock Holmes?  The detective grew larger in the eyes of the public than he was, and he was jealous, as far as I can tell.  Sherlock Holmes is what the world remembers him for, but it was not his Story, his masterpiece.

Conan Doyle, here portrayed as being held captive by his own creation.

The Story is not the reason we start writing.  We start writing because we love books and they are a part of us and we can’t imagine doing anything else.  But when we do start, it’s always there, in the backs of our minds, reminding us to keep searching because The Story is out there, somewhere.

That isn’t to say our other works aren’t good- far from it.  C.S. Lewis wrote many other books before and after writing the Chronicles of Narnia, and they are quite widely loved.  But when our Story is revealed to us, we just know that this is what we were really meant to write, that this would be some of our best work.

Well, that’s about it for today, because I’m starting to repeat myself again.  Now, some housekeeping notes:

I may be writing some short fiction soon, so stay posted on that.  But it will not be coming for a few days at least because I have to catch up on my reading.  The list of books I’ve read in the past month is rather pathetic.

Also, Hunger Games news!  The movie website is officially up and running, and you can see it here.  It’s got the animation from the first official movie poster (squeal!) as well as a countdown that I can’t seem to embed on the Novel Journeys home page.

Oh well.

Does anyone feel the same way about The Story?  Or do you think that the above is all rubbish?

Also, if you like what I do here, please subscribe!

Happy reading!