Why Do We Fall In Love With Fictional Characters?
Be honest. Somewhere in your past you met that special someone, your ideal mate, the perfect yin for your yang. Dreams of a blissful life together filled your nights—and possibly spilled into your days. Unfortunately, your love remained unrequited and unfulfilled, because this ideal partner, this paragon of beauty, strength, tenderness, humor, and intelligence, this heaven-sent love of your life, wasn’t real. He or she existed only in the pages of a book.
Don’t be embarrassed. This phenomenon is far more common than you think. And I’m not calling anyone out on this. In fact, I am just as guilty as the next person of constructing fantasy out of fiction. As a teenager, I had quite a thing for Joe Hardy. He was cute, smart, loyal, respected his dad, and solved mysteries. What’s not to love?
As a mystery author, I’ve continued to feed into that need. I created my main character’s love interest in the type I most lust after. Marcus Trenault actually has a lot in common with my husband. He’s tall and rangy, has blue eyes, loves children, classic rock, muscle cars, baseball, and junk food. Oh, my beating heart! Of course, Marc is also a homicide cop who’s not afraid to throw a fist or drive through a fruit stand in pursuit of a killer. Maybe I secretly long for a bit more danger in my life?!?
We agree that it happens. The question remains: WHY? After extensive and highly scientific research into this absorbing topic, I have determined four primary reasons for this phenomenon:
- We create our ideal fantasy. It’s easy to fall in love with someone if you are building that persona yourself. This is especially true if the author provides some “point of view” insights for your crush. You’ll feel as if you’re getting to know your favorite in a deep, personal way. Even more important, you have quite a bit of control over what they might look like. “Tall, black hair and blue eyes” is relatively specific, but it still gives you a lot of latitude for personal taste. In your head, you can twist a character on the page to be perfect for you, right down to their tone of voice and the scent of their aftershave.
- We don’t have to deal with these people in real life. We don’t have to put up with any of the myriad things that annoy us about actual physical, sweaty, imperfect human beings. That hot guy won’t leave towels on the floor, have bad breath, interrupt your stories, or dismiss your fear of spiders with a condescending eye roll. That sweet, sympathetic woman won’t have daddy issues, an annoying older sister, or a disturbing obsession with Instagramming every moment of your lives. And, of course, this means you get to skip the messy break-up. Who needs the drama?
- Often the character we crush on is the love interest of a main character. For that reason, the author puts a lot of effort into showing why the MC finds her/him so appealing. Best attributes will be dwelt upon, perhaps to the exclusion of obvious flaws. And isn’t that the definition of falling in love?
- Writers work hard to make their characters believable. They want to grip their readers, encouraging them to read their next book. After all, characters that the reader can connect to is one of the main requirements of a good story.If you’ve been sucked into a fictional world to the point where the inhabitants feel so much like real people that you’re having a genuine emotional response to them, then that author has done their job.
A word of caution. Indulging in a fantasy life can be a healthy thing, if enjoyed in moderation. Invisible friends enable shy, withdrawn, or lonely children to practice social skills and battle the blues. Many therapists encourage their patients to create a fictional “antagonist”, someone to whom they can verbalize their anger, fear and frustration without risking the fallout of a major fight with a loved one. It can be an effective way to process strong feelings safely.
Problems occur when the make believe starts to interfere with the real. If you begin to cut yourself off from real relationships, missing opportunities for genuine connections to another person, then you’ve sunk too far into the fantasy realm. Waking up from the dream isn’t always easy, either. Your best bet is to keep one eye open. Don’t let your fictional crush take over your life.
In the end, and despite whatever logic tells us, we will continue to fall deeply, hopelessly, but willingly in love with our favorite characters. Whatever the reason for your next crush, here’s wishing you a happily ever after.
The Codebook Murders:
The Oakwood Book Club Mystery Series
by Leslie Nagel
About the Book
The Codebook Murders: The Oakwood Book Club Mystery Series
4th in Series
Alibi (May 21, 2019)
Print Length: 250 pages
Amateur sleuth Charley Carpenter discovers a coded journal that could crack her small town’s most infamous cold case wide open in this charming cozy mystery from the USA Today bestselling author of The Book Club Murders.
As the owner of Old Hat Vintage Fashions, Charley Carpenter supplies retro apparel to the residents of Oakwood, Ohio, but she’s been known to set business aside to play detective when a mystery rears its head. And there’s no bigger mystery in Oakwood than the murder of Regan Fletcher—a case that’s haunted the town for decades.
Regan’s boyfriend, Carter, did time for the crime—until another man’s confession freed him. But did the “real killer” really do it? Or did Carter walk away with blood on his hands? When Charley stumbles on an old journal written in code, it only complicates the case by revealing a blackmail scheme that targeted dozens of Oakwood’s citizens, giving them all a motive for murder.
Now, with a spate of new suspects to pursue, plus a fresh murder and the abduction of her sleuthing partner, Charley must dig deeper still into the past—even as she risks being buried by her shadowy prey. Joining forces with Detective Marcus Trenault and the newly formed Oakwood Mystery Book Club, Charley turns to a classic whodunit for clues on catching a killer—before more lives are lost, and the truth dies with them.
Leslie Nagel’s delightful Oakwood Mystery novels can be enjoyed together or separately:
THE BOOK CLUB MURDERS • THE ANTIQUE HOUSE MURDERS • THE ADVICE COLUMN MURDERS • THE CODEBOOK MURDERS
About the Author
About The Author
Leslie Nagel is a writer and teacher of writing at a local community college. Her debut novel, “The Book Club Murders”, is the first in the Oakwood Mystery Series. Leslie lives in the all too real city of Oakwood, Ohio, where murders are rare but great stories lie thick on the ground. After the written word, her passions include her husband, her son, and daughter, hiking, tennis and strong black coffee, not necessarily in that order.Author Links
Website – http://www.leslienagel.com/
Facebook – https://www.facebook.com/LeslieNagelAuthor/
Twitter – https://twitter.com/@leslie_nagel
Instagram – https://www.instagram.com/leslie_nagel/
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