When Our Characters Feel Real


Image from Flickr by HartwigHKD

Image from Flickr by HartwigHKD

My friend and I met at the library on Saturday, in theory to exchange pages and give thoughtful critiques on each others’ writing. That didn’t happen. What we ended up doing was talking a lot about our current writing projects.

She feels ambivalent about hers—a book she started in November for NaNoWriMo. But when she talks about her previous project, the novel she wrote last year for NaNo, her whole demeanor changes, and she speaks about her characters with affection. As if they’re real people.

I love this. I want to see her go back to this novel.

When I wrote The Fourth Wall, I cared about my main character but in a distant way, because I was still getting to know her and uncovering her story. It was after I wrote the book that I began to think of Marin more as a real person. A person who—after rejections started piling up—I was letting down.

I know how it sounds. You’re probably rolling your eyes. Marin isn’t real, you’re thinking. She’s a fictional character. But that’s not how I felt when I started to wonder whether her story would be known. I felt as if I’d convinced a girl—who had great difficulty expressing herself—to use her voice, only to risk that voice going unheard. The possibility of failing her became an actual ache.

When my friend talks about her main character, when she says her name, I hear this same kind of affection and longing. This is a girl she loves and a story she feels must be told. That’s the kind of passion it takes to get a book published. You have to want it that badly.

If you’d like to get to know Marin, click here for your Kindle copy of The Fourth Wall. It would mean so much to me. I do think you’ll like Marin. Maybe, like me, you’ll even end up loving her.