I think one of the most vital things an author needs to establish are the characters. I am character/s driven reader. I root, I swoon, and sometimes get way too invested in their lives that no matter how long it was since I read/watched, it still remains in my head (and to make matter cheesier—my heart). But some people took their liberties to squash your connection by stating an obvious fact: it’s fiction.
So what? I don’t think it weighs too much if the character doesn’t truly exist. It might not be in the real world but the connection I feel for this character is real. It’s what makes submerging to stories truly worthwhile. I don’t believe that I am wasting my time harboring genuine affections on people that doesn’t live in the real world. Because sometimes, for me, these characters presented things, situations that I might not be able to experience in reality. I think one of the reasons fiction exist. Why it is created—continuously created.
“Truth is stranger than fiction,” as the old saying goes. When I watch a documentary, I can’t help crying and then I think to myself, “Fiction can’t compete with this.”
But when I mentioned this to a veteran manga artist friend of mine he said that “fiction brings salvation to characters in stories that would otherwise have no salvation at all.”
His words strengthened the conviction of my manga spirit.”
― Hiromu Arakawa, Fullmetal Alchemist「鋼の錬金術師」Vol. 12
I echo Arakawa-sensei’s colleague’s sentiment about fiction bringing salvation to character/s that is beyond redemption. Aren’t we always wishing for the silver lining in stories? It is why I think a well-crafted character will go a long way than scrupulous theme. Of course, it would be much better if this character is in a setting that is also intriguing. It raises the bar further. But if reader/watcher gets invested to this character it says so much, as if it breathes reality. As if it became somehow alive.
There’s nothing to be ashamed of if you love a character. The boundaries that reality and fiction seems to be setting it in sometimes get blurry when you as a reader see the life of the characters through reading/watching it. Like you experience it yourself. And as form of escapism, nothing beats the feeling, the satisfaction when the character triumphs in the end. It is why I read. The feeling I get is very real to me.
So how about you, do you have an all-time favorite character/s? What makes him/her special? Do you agree that we’re wasting our time by investing affection towards these characters? Care to share your opinion below?