1. ScottM84
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    ScottM84 Member

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    Do you ever find yourself developing an emotional attachment to your characters?

    Discussion in 'Character Development' started by ScottM84, Jun 10, 2014.

    Maybe it's a common occurrence, but this is my first attempt at any kind of fiction, and I find myself actually starting to care about the characters in my book. For example, my main characters have a younger sister who feels like she's in her older sister's shadow as a figure skater. I'm currently writing a scene in which the older sister finally lands her first triple jump successfully while the younger sister continues to struggle with one of her double jumps. While I was writing part of that scene earlier, I found myself truly feeling sorry for the younger sister. I told some friends that I'm going to have to let her land that jump before the end of the book. I truly hate the idea of her remaining unable to do it.

    Have you ever experienced the same sort of thing while writing? If so, does it happen a lot or is it just an occasional thing? Do you feel like it made your story better?
     
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  2. EllBeEss
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    EllBeEss Contributing Member

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    I'm very attached to a lot of my characters. In itself it isn't a bad thing but with my WIP at one point I found myself getting too attached to the characters and having them all survive and get their happy ending when it really didn't make sense for the world I'd created. If I continued to be soattached to all my characters it would have taken a massive toll on the story so I had to step back and realize that these characters wouldn't necessarily get happy endings.

    If you feel sorry for the character you'll be able to convey that to the reader and it will strengthen the story but I would be cautious of making everything easy for the characters you feel sorry for. Would it harm the story for her to master that jump by the end?
     
  3. ScottM84
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    ScottM84 Member

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    It's not going to be easy for the younger sister. The practice being described in my current scene is going to be very stressful for her.

    There won't be entirely happy endings for the main characters as they're going to end up being grounded. They're 12 years old and one of the lessons of the book is the importance of obedience. I'm not going to let the emotional attachment get in the way of teaching the lesson. That said, compared to your characters, it sounds like things will work out relatively well for my characters.

    I actually think that if I do it right having the younger sister land the jump could add to the story. Another lesson from the story is the importance of family, and events in the story will draw all of the siblings closer together. From that, I'm envisioning a part of the ending being that the older sister invests more time into helping her younger sister develop, and she could help give her the extra push that she needs to do it.
     
  4. GingerCoffee
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    GingerCoffee Web Surfer Girl Contributor

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    I'm attached to my characters but not in the way you describe in the OP. If the story was about the sister making the jump, she would. If it was about her not making the jump, it wouldn't bother me to write it that way.
     
  5. ScottM84
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    ScottM84 Member

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    I didn't mean to imply that I'd do damage to the story to get a result I like for a character, although upon reading my OP, I can see how it would imply that. Actually, whether she lands the jump or not doesn't affect the outcome of the story, and that's why I said what I did to my friends.

    Ultimately, I just wondered if it's so unusual to actually start to care about my characters. It's something I didn't expect to have happen.
     
  6. minstrel
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    minstrel Leader of the Insquirrelgency Staff Supporter Contributor

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    Of course I care about my characters. If I didn't, I'd be wasting my time writing about them. I have to love them; I have to enjoy their company. However, I see a little further into their futures than they possibly can - I am, after all, their god. This means that I decide their destinies, and I love them to the extent that they advance towards the realization of their destinies. If my hero has to die in the end, he dies. No matter how much I care for him, I can't spare his life. If he doesn't die, he isn't my hero. He isn't anybody's hero. He's just a putz some fool wrote a story about, not memorable in any way.

    So caring about my characters doesn't mean I make things easier for them.
     
  7. Commandante Lemming
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    Commandante Lemming Contributing Member Contributor

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    Yes. I have one character who is a self-hating alcoholic and I feel horrible for making her that way ever since I wrote her origin story. Her younger self is a really nice person and making her suffer hurts me.
     
  8. mg357
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    mg357 Active Member

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    Yes as a matter of fact I do develop an emotional attachment to my characters when they feel pain I feel their pain when they feel joy I feel their joy. When they are miserable I feel there misery.

    For example I am writing a short story about a brother and a sister, and the sister is murdered.

    By their abusive father and the brother is forced to suffer a great deal of pain and misery over the death of his only sibling.

    Who was also the only friend he has as well.

    Eventually despite his lingering pain that he will carry with him the rest of his life, he eventually meets a nice woman who also lost a loved one and together through their shared grief they are able to develop a romance.
     
  9. GingerCoffee
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    GingerCoffee Web Surfer Girl Contributor

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    All hail The Great Minstrel. :write:
     
  10. Bryan Romer
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    Bryan Romer Contributing Member Contributor

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    My emotional attachment to my characters is no greater than that for an image I might have created. It is a work of art on my part, a creation of my skill and labour. Nothing more.
     
  11. cutecat22
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    cutecat22 The Strange One Contributor

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    Yes, I have a deep affection for my characters (even the evil ones) and to a certain point, I am their God as @minstrel put it and I control their destinies but, there are times when I listen to their ideas to find out where they think their story should go.
     
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  12. Romeisburning
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    Romeisburning New Member

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    I create strong emotional ties to some of my characters, and even in the past if I had a certain protagonist overcoming hardships and i relapsed in the real world I almost felt I had to hide it from my character. As if id let him/her down somehow. When really, i was letting down an extension of myself, wholly different and exactly the same as I.
     
  13. Uberwatch
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    Uberwatch Active Member

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    I have to view my characters as if I knew them in real life. it's pretty much the only way I can flesh them out. I think I get too attached to my antagonists though.
     
  14. Man in the Box
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    Man in the Box Active Member

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    I do and actually I think it's quite common for this to happen, especially if it brings back memories of things that happened to us.
     
  15. J.P.Clyde
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    J.P.Clyde Prince of Melancholy Contributor

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    A character you feel for is a character that is truly alive, which is a good thing. I think the the best kind of writing and the best way to get a 3D character v.s. a 2D character is a character written with experience and attachment.

    I do not just become attached to my characters, but my worlds. To the point where I sometimes live inside my novels for months on end. I have to remind myself sometimes not to do so.
     
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  16. Link the Writer
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    Link the Writer Flipping Out For A Good Story. Contributor

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    Sure I like them, otherwise I wouldn't even spend five minutes writing/thinking about them; however I'm careful to remind myself that they're not real. Which leaves me to fear for the day I start getting emotional if I'm writing something horrible happening to one of my characters.
     
  17. AlannaHart
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    AlannaHart Contributing Member

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    I find the only thing that keeps me from destroying a character's life is the plot. If their wellbeing is necessary, I'll leave them be, but the more I care for a character the more I imagine the reader's going to care for them and the more I torture them. Happy endings be damned. I wanna emotionally stab my readers.
     
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  18. Commandante Lemming
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    Commandante Lemming Contributing Member Contributor

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    "I wanna emotionally stab my readers."

    Funny - this is the only reason I'm even WILLING to make my characters suffer and/or die.
     
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  19. Link the Writer
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    Link the Writer Flipping Out For A Good Story. Contributor

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    I'm too much of a chicken to actually make my characters' lives worse. The worst they get is a beating here and there, but...I just don't want to hurt them! :( I know I have to if it will make the story work, but I won't like it. Not at all. No one hurts my Amos Garnier! ;___;

    Seriously though, you probably have to put yourself in a frame of mind where even though you're the God of their world, and they're technically talking about/to you when talking about/to God, you can't interfere or the readers won't like it.
     
  20. Chrysostom
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    Chrysostom Member

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    I spread my negative and positive traits to my (usually) main characters. Although I add some other personalities, I still feel emotional connection to them, because in the end, I'm the embodiment of my main characters.
     
  21. AlannaHart
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    AlannaHart Contributing Member

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    I love hurting them. The more I like them and the more I can get away with it (without disturbing the plot), the more I slap them about. I think to write an emotionally gripping novel you need to be a bit of a sadist toward your creations. Life ain't fair, and if you try to paint it that way for your characters' sakes, it can come across quite boring.
    To really help your character evolve, you often need to throw real danger or heartbreak in their face, not just 'he'll pull through cause he's awesome' danger, or 'his lover died but he suffers in a cool way' heartbreak.
    Thank god I enjoy the pain of my creations.
     
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  22. Bjørnar Munkerud
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    Bjørnar Munkerud Contributing Member

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    I love to sing, and when I listen to one that fits one of my characters I always sing them whilst pretending to be them. Somethimes it makes me cry. Sometimes it makes me laugh. Sometimes I look at myself from the outside and realise what a unique ... snowflake I am. I never know before I try.
     
  23. peachalulu
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    peachalulu Contributing Member Reviewer Contributor

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    Yes, but I try not to let it influence plot choices. Sometimes it does but not necessarily for the worst. Tragedy for the sake of tragedy is just as bad in my book as an ill-placed happy ending. I thought Cold Mountain's ending ( at least the movie version ) stank. I would've preferred Inman shot but not fatally. That to me was tragedy for the sake of tragedy especially after all those subtle-as-a-sledgehammer foreshadowings.

    I like to keep things balanced - if I'm going to put my character through the mill he needs to have some sort of emotional or physical reward. Life's full of ups and downs. And if it isn't I don't want to read about it. All downs is a downer, all ups is infuriating. Hope is key.
     
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  24. criticalsexualmass
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    criticalsexualmass Active Member

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    If I don't get attached to my characters, I dump them or dump the whole MS. I mean, how can I expect a reader to care if I don't? If I don't get a strong attachment to them I'm doing something wrong.

    That is a far cry, however, from being unable to hurt/maim/kill/emotionally strangle them. Most of my character (but not all) get what they deserve, no matter how much I love them. It's what moves the story. difficulty and turmoil bring about change, personal growth, and all that other hippie zen stuff that we writers consume like heroin. To suffer is to live.

    Think of your story arc. Without trouble, death, pain, difficulty, etc there is nothing to overcome. Your story is a flat line. Peaks, valleys, wars, caffeinated cats, ballerinas with machetes-that's where the action is. Sometimes the pretty girl has to be scarred before she realizes that she's pretty on the inside, too, and that what's on the inside is what's important.

    Don't let love of your character kill a story. Without the story, there's no reason for the character. Let Her serve her purpose.
     
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  25. Commandante Lemming
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    Commandante Lemming Contributing Member Contributor

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    I also think the idea of physical suffering has to be commensurate with your setting - not just your preferences for how much crap you like putting people through.

    If you're writing a war or fantasy story - there's a good chance of a lot of physical suffering. On the other hand, I get annoyed at tv shows killing off young characters by the score when actors leave the shows...on average, people don't die young, violent deaths - so to have a lot of them in, say, a medical drama is unrealistic. Personally my characters all work in journalism, are almost all under 50, make decent money, and only one of them operates in war zones. It doesn't make sense for any of them to die, and they're all going to survive the story....not without emotional stress but nobody dies. Granted I have several political assassinations of characters who play big roles, but my core cast of 5 people all come out fine.
     

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