How real are your characters?

I’d often heard authors talk about how real their characters become to them. Mine are pretty real, but it wasn’t like I spent much time wondering what they were doing when I wasn’t writing about them. I mean, really.

And then I had lunch with a friend who’d recently had a baby. I had just written about my main character’s new niece, Ginny, an adorable, precocious baby, of course. As my friend told me an adorable story about her newborn, my eyes lit up and I opened my mouth to tell her an equally adorable story about . . . Ginny. Purely fictional Ginny. I caught myself, but later confessed and we shared a good laugh.

And then just last week a character in book two died. As I was taking a break for a cup of tea, I thought to myself, guess I’d better call dad and let him know ________ died.  Then I caught myself, um, he’s not a real person.

So, it’s true. Characters do become very real. If you’re a writer, have you ever caught yourself thinking about your characters as though they’re real? If you’re a reader, have you ever caught yourself wondering what a character you’ve been reading about is up to?

3 thoughts on “How real are your characters?

  1. As an editor there’ve been books I worked on I became so invested in that I wrote long emails to the authors about a potential followup book using those characters. 🙂

  2. Mom

    Jamie: That’s what made the Mitford series such a hit.
    Sarah: I love the characters that leave me saying “I wish they lived next door so we could be friends.” Or “I wonder what ____ would do in this situation?” But I don’t think I go so far as to wonder what they ARE doing…

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