I recently read a review article called “Emotional Historians,” which looked at the fascinating idea of a historian falling in love with a figure (from the past), who she is researching. I’ve heard of this happening to fiction writers before.
Stories are usually more engaging when you can tell that the writer invested in their characters, but can a writer become too invested in a fictional character? An important characteristic of a good writer is the ability to take ideas and interpret them through words in a way that makes them believable to your readers. Not surprisingly, it’s incredibly easy to fall in love with a character you invented in your head.
There’s an old rumour that Anne Rice fell in love with the vampire, LeStat.
F. Scott Fitzgerald wrote about Nick Carroway with a far deeper self-identification than he felt with the enigmatic Gatsby.
Virginia Woolf knew exactly what Mrs. Dalloway was thinking in her most private thoughts, as she created a heroine who was not honest to either her husband, Richard, or her former romantic interest, Peter Walsh. – Alan Rinzler
As Rinzler explains, writers, who get emotionally involved in the writing process, write better narratives. We create back stories and invent details about the characters’ lives that may never make it into the stories, but influence our characters’ actions nonetheless. No one knows them better than their writers do.
While it makes sense, it also sounds crazy. I found one writer, who found themself unable to date because they were too in love with a fictional character that they created.
I know he’s not real. But I keep having dreams about him. I keep thinking about him, and our ‘life’ together (basically my life now but with him in it). – ShinyStar
Does that sound silly to you, or like part of the writing process?
Many writers feel that becoming emotionally involved with their fictional characters is an integral part of their craft, but stories, like ShinyStar’s, make me wonder if it can go too far. That being said, writing any work of believable fiction, especially something as long as a novel, seems to require either a beautiful form of insanity, or an addictive/borderline obsessive-compulsive personality. The Oxford English Dictionary definition of addiction applies to both the state one is in when they are either in love, or writing anything longer than 10,000 words.
addiction n. The state or condition of being dedicated or devoted to a thing, esp. an activity or occupation; adherence or attachment, esp. of an immoderate or compulsive kind.
Consequently, if you write this kind of fiction, I don’t think you can ever truly be bored, or lonely.