Thursday, October 05, 2006

Wide Awake, Alert, Enthusiastic and as Forgetful as Ever

“Wide awake, alert, enthusiastic.” My old roommate—the Druggie—used to say this when she was trying to convince herself (or me) to wake up as we stumbled around in our living room. Sometimes it was said with heavy, heavy sarcasm; sometimes through a yawn; and sometimes with such perkiness that she endangered her life by merely being in the same room with me.

Today would be one of those life endangering days.

What’s said is that I used to be a morning person, but ever sense this addiction to coffee my early morning awareness and intelligence levels have fallen dramatically.

(As if y’all didn’t know Starbucks was “the Evil” before they raised their prices again on Monday.)

That said, let me preface this with the acknowledgment that I might have asked this before (and boy do I hate repeating myself), but:

When you are reading, do you ever find characters that mirror some of your friends and enemies in real life?

Sure I know that “no character in this story is based on a real life person” blah di blah di blah, but I’ve found myself irrationally loving and hating certain characters just because they remind me of friends, family members or those I would rather not be bothered with. Sometimes it’s their physical characteristics, and sometimes it’s their attitude. I know that I’ve been able to identify with characters many others found uncompromising or those who others claim of TSTL moments because I’ve seen that “thought process/actual outcome” happen to someone I know.

Does this connection with real life work for you, strengthening your connection to the narrative? Or does it pull you out of the story because you can’t separate character from fact?

Please tell me I’m not the only one. That might be a greater offense than asking me if I’m wide awake, alert, enthusiastic.



Dave Kuzminski said...

No, I don't. Most characters are so exaggerated that I see them only as imaginary.

Trish Ryan said...

You're not the only one. In the book I'm reading now, I've somehow decided that the main character looks and acts like "Angela" from this season's "Project Runway." I can't shake it; it's who she is. I'm not sure either the author or Angela would be please by this...

RandomRanter said...

Yeah, certain characteristics drive me batty since I have dealt with them too much in real life.

Kelley Bell said...

I make those connections all the time.

It's no wonder I don't have any friends. I told them all to p*ss off because of what they did in the book!


Robin Brande said...

I love it when a character reminds me of someone I know. Maybe this is nuts, but I actually believe I can learn more about real-life people by reading fiction than nonfiction. Nonfiction seems to favor the honestly heroic and honestly psychopathic--and how many times do we actually run into people like that?

Fiction, on the other hand, is based on people we all know--our neighbors, our family, our friends and enemies. So if I see our hero or heroine dealing with some everyday irky problem of mine, I can get a clue how to handle things in a more stylish way.

For example, haven't we all known someone like Professor Umbridge from Harry Potter and The Order of the Phoenix? Every scene with her makes the blood boil. But throughout that book we got to watch the various ways of dealing with her--from Dumbledore's zen-like detachment to Sirius' and Harry's anger-mismanagement--and now we all know what to do. Right?

Kate R said...

huh? My what to my narrative? My connection to my what?

oh damn, turns out even the word "yawn" is contagious.

*another Yawn*

Hey, I have first paragraphs up and I thought of you as I put them up. . .one in particular.

Little Willow said...

I see people I know in characters more often than I see myself.

There are also the characters that are so enigmatic, intriguing or kind that one wishes they were real. (Example: Nick, The Great Gatsby; Parker, The Bermudez Triangle)

David de Beer said...

I think it's natural to often see people you know, or yourself, reflected in characters. After all, characters are mirrors, aren't they?

It could be the persona, it could be the situation, it differs. I think for a lot of people, reading about somethign that happened to them, and seeing the way the characters behave, takes on a special connection.

I once wrote a short, and a woman in my crit circle went: "Oh, my God, that's totally me!"
hehe, it wasn't intentional, but I was pleased. I joined the group since I thought I would struggle with writing believable female characters (turns out the male ones are more unbelievable).
To the reader, that was a nice connection, sort of "making it pesonal", albeit by accident on the author's part.
Writers are often told to make characters "realistic", so they would have some connection to real people, wouldn't they?
Dean Koontz only writes himself and his wife, Gerda. All the bad guys are based on his dad.
That lnie about "not based on any actual living blablabla", is standard, required to fend off lawsuits.

eh, I've gone on another ramble, adn I fully intended to simply say - most people make a connection to chars in a story, and most people seem to like it.

Bernita said...

It happens, enhances the story for me. Makes me trust the writer's perception more, suspension of disbelief and all that.