What if I’m not in love with my characters?

I’m not in love with my characters.

I like my characters. I really really like my characters. I love who they are and what they do, why they do it, how they came to be who they are, and all that other good stuff. They’re strong characters, well-defined and complicated just enough to keep it interesting.

But I’m not in love with them. I mean that head-over-heels, think about them all the time, can’t concentrate on anything type of in love that so many other writers claim to have fallen into while working. There are no cartoon hearts for eyes and a heart thumping of my chest over here.

I read those posts and tweets by writers that talk about how they are in love with the people they’ve created. They think about them when they’re doing dishes or laundry. Their minds wander when they’re supposed to be working. They hear something on TV and think “hahaha, my character would so say that!” Yes, I sat in church last Sunday and thought about them instead of listening to whatever the pastor was preaching because I was only there to see my nieces and nephew sing but that’s a pretty rare occurrence. It just doesn’t happen that often.

(And yes, my story involves supernatural elements so thinking about it in a church was probably doubly wrong).

I don’t have that all-encompassing obsession with my characters. Is that simply a personality trait that I don’t possess? Outside of music and maybe one or two TV shows, I don’t get obsessed with things. I’ll lose myself in a book and can easily spend an entire day absorbed in that world, but it’s super-duper rare that I find myself wandering back to that story after a day or two. Movies are fun but I’m not launching into super fan mode over any of them.

A year or so ago, I was watching one of those wedding dress shows that have women come in with a group of (usually rude) friends and pick out their dress. It was a Friday night, I was home alone with my dog, and I’m very single. Don’t judge. One of the brides was comparing dresses to her characters. “Oh that’s so an Annie dress. Oh Lila would never wear that. I think I want a Julie dress and Julie wouldn’t be caught dead in that dress.” It seemed so completely crazy to me that those thoughts even entered her mind. I’ve never been the type of person that didn’t know who I was. I’ve never been wishy-washy on feelings or owning my emotions, I’ve never adopted parts of others personalities into my own. Has that influenced by ability to connect with made up people in some way? I don’t know.

I know someone will say “well then write better characters.” I believe my fictional little folks are strong characters with dynamic personalities and stories. I would absolutely hang out with these people when they’re not being chased around by evil beings as I’m not one for running. They have big personalities and know who they are. I’m just not in love with them like so many of my fellow writers claim to be. I care about them and want to tell their story. I really do but I’m not fanatical about it. Maybe that makes me a bad writer.

Is it me? Is it them? Are some writers selling their love of their characters to try to draw others in and sell books? Can some really be that into their own characters? Does not falling in love with my own creations make me a lackluster writer?

Where do y’all fall on this topic? I moved to the south last month (hence the lack of blog posts – been busy!) so I’m going to saying “y’all” all the time, cool? Cool.

 

 

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6 responses to “What if I’m not in love with my characters?

  • Maya Langston

    I have a pretty good idea of who my characters are. I’d like to think they’re well defined and interesting, but this early in the process, that’s a work in progress. I think about them in terms of the story and how they would react to certain situations. I know almost everything there is to know about them.

    But I’m not in love with them.

    I like them. I might even be friends with some of them if they were real people. I empathize with their situations. But I’m not consumed with them. I think that’s a good thing. Because when there’s some distance between you and your characters, you can be clinical about certain things. You can be more objective about what works or doesn’t work with their personalities and what needs to happen to make them more compelling (usually making them squirm more).

    I don’t think being in love with your characters is necessary to make interesting characters. I think it’s a YMMV thing.

    Like

  • aspirationsofflight

    I definitely don’t think you have to be in love with them. Honestly, if you are in love with them you may end up blinded and afraid to take risks with the story that should be taken. I think loving your characters can work against you, even if it does help with the whole getting words out thing.

    Like

  • corikane

    as with most things to do with writing, i don’t think there’s a right way or a wrong way here. different writers write differently. if you’re not in love with your characters then that’s how you roll. you shouldn’t worry too much about what other poeple say they do or don’t do when writing, unless you want to try something new out – sometimes these things fit and sometimes they don’t. i see writing as intuitive and however you do your writing – if it works – it can’t be wrong, or bad.

    Liked by 1 person

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