In the past 15 years or so since I started writing for fun I have always struggled with the emotional attachment to my characters. I think this is a pretty good thing, if I can dig deep and thaw my frosty little heart into feeling things for my characters this will hopefully translate to the reader too.
I have discussed this with some friends I have who also write. A friend of mine who I work with will sometimes come back from a lunch break of writing and tell me she’s got a little emotional because she’s had to kill a character off. Honestly whenever she mentions this it makes me want to read her work because it just shows her passion.
Me and this friend will often get a few funny looks from the other people we work with as we’ll often chat about the kind of things we come across when writing. For example characters arguing in our minds or giving them traits of people we see in passing. This particular trick I feel makes the people we write a little more real and fleshed out. If you make them mimic an action or a tone of voice someone else has it really helps bring them to life in your own mind and helps you get them down on the page.
1 part character, 1 part plot and 1 part writing style mixed together with love and frustration until you’re filled with self doubt then cook at 200 degrees for 2-3 months for a amenable first draft. When you think of how characters are an equal 3rd part of a book and how long it takes to just get a first draft from your head to the page it’s understandable that we form connections, in fact I’d be more wary of authors who say they don’t get attached.
I have never managed to finish a novel, I have come pretty close but never finished. However I still find myself thinking of many characters I have written before. The first character I ever wrote was Clare Colon (I was about 7) and she still pops into my mind and I often wonder what mysteries she’d be solving now if I wrote about her. They are old friends, some I want to forget like a bad ex boyfriend and others I want to re-visit for a cup of tea to see how we’ve both grown up in the past years.
Do you get attached to your characters?
Have you ever taken a trait from someone you’ve seen and given it to your character?