One thing I have really taken notice of this week is my imaginary world. The reason for this is because I killed off one of my characters and had to break it to my other characters that he was dead. It took me by surprise that the character died (for those of you that don’t know, I’m not a planner when it comes to my story. I know the beginning and the end, everything else is a mystery) and it actually made me really sad and I thought I was going crazy. Other writers assured me that I wasn’t and that it was quite normal to get so attached. Exactly how George R.R. Martin keeps killing off his characters I don’t know, but it is effective for his story. After this week I know I wouldn’t be able to.
But it also got me thinking about other writers and the worlds they create. I think that those who do it successfully (J.K. Rowling, George R.R. Martin, Tolkien etc.) really immerse themselves in it and to some extent the world becomes real to them. If a fan asks them a question about what a character would do in a situation, they can answer it because they have taken the time to get to know the characters in their story.
They know their likes and dislikes, their strengths and weaknesses and all the little details that makes them a fully fleshed character rather than a bunch of words strung together. And it is these things that capture the reader’s imagination.
There are a lot of books out there and honestly, not all of them are good. The writing may be fantastic, the plot good, but if the characters are flat the story will not captivate me. I read a lot and I can over look some bad grammar if the characters are interesting. The plot has to have some substance to it or it loses me, but if the characters are done well I’ll persevere. The characters and what they go through, the growth they show throughout the story are what matter to me.
And my favourite stories reflect this. Harry Potter starts as a young orphan and grows up to save the wizarding world from Lord Voldemort. Claire Fraser from the Outlander series is introduced to us as a young war nurse and in the last book was a grandmother and a well known figure for her medical prowess. In between that they had their challenges, victories and loses and they grew. And it is this sort of story I want to show my readers. That even though some of my characters have magic and some of them aren’t entirely human, they all have emotions and grow when confronted with change.
Sometimes that growth is fantastic and other times it is stunted and goes in a bad direction, but it is change. So that is what drives my story, my characters’ growth and consequently my own, for I simply can not write and not be affected by it. My writing world may be imaginary, but that doesn’t mean it doesn’t affect me or my readers and really, why write if it doesn’t touch people in some fashion? Why read if you don’t want to grow in some way? Even if it’s just for entertainment value, you still change a tiny bit from the person you were before you read that story.
What story had the most impact on you and why?