And by that I mean, did you ever read a book — at any age, but particularly when you were younger — where you thought to yourself: That’s the person I want to be!
Wait! Wait! I didn’t throw a monkey wrench into it yet!
The book can NOT be a fantasy or science-fiction title.
Did that ruin it for anyone? Everyone?
See, last week there was this article in the NYT about boys and reading and yadda yadda yadda. But out of that I found myself wondering what, if any, characters in literature really made me sit up and really wish I could be that person.
We talk so much in the craft of fiction about identifying with characters, empathizing with them, sympathizing with their plight, but how many of them represent who we would actually, willingly want to be identified with?
Did it stick? Did you change your life, your environment, your personality to be more like that character?
Now, why am I removing fantasy and sci-fi from the mix? Well, I have a theory, but it’s only that, that readers might be more prone to adopting a fantasy persona than one from a more realistic or historical setting. Who wouldn’t want to do something impossible, like cast spells or fly to other worlds? Yes, yes, I know that character traits are universal and the setting shouldn’t matter, but my curiosity and my intuition are strongly leaning toward the idea that it is harder to find realistic characters we can identify with.
Still with me?
Please, post and discuss in the comments below. And invite everyone you know to join in.