Stories Don’t End Where the Book Does

February 10, 2014 at 12:40 pm | Posted in Philosophy, Psychology, Reading, Writing and Life | 13 Comments
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There's no real ending

Have you ever finished a short story or a novel and couldn’t get the characters out of your head?

Have you imagined what might have happened after the story finished?

With a good story and well-realised characters, I think it happens quite often. I know it has to me.

I suppose that is why there is so much fan fiction written, and why readers love book series.

They don’t want to lose those characters, that world, that reality created by the author. They want the story to go on.

 

Harry Potter books

Think Harry Potter. To many of her readers, J.K. Rowlings’ imaginary character has become just as real as their own family and friends. He is someone they may know even better than those real people. It just happens that Harry, together with his own friends and foes, lives somewhere else.

They dwell in a different reality. It is a reality that has a door from our own that we can enter at will, or which can spill for a time into our own reality through the magic key of reading.

Why do some characters and their worlds become so real, when others do not? Why do we want to stay with some when we can’t even get to know others – or want to?

That to me is another magic. The magic created by a sensitive, observant and creative writer. Such writers do not necessarily create great works of literature (as defined by high-brow literary critics).

What they do create are real worlds occupied by real people, with real feelings and desires, hopes and dreams, challenges and triumphs. Characters with whom the reader develops empathy, a feeling of one-ness.

It’s no wonder we don’t want to leave the book – in a way it is our own life we have been reading, or that of people we have become close to. We want to know more.

Book hug

 

Do you ever identify with or become close to characters in the books you read?

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13 Comments »

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  1. Yes, I do, but I learn to let them go eventually. Same with my own characters, after writing their story I allow them to go on their own adventures without me bugging them. Sounds strange… but I think Rowling should let her characters do the same.

    • Thanks for the comment Jeyna. Yes, I agree that Harry needs to retire now. After all the hype, anything else would be an anti-climax.

  2. Oh yeah, I become very close to the characters in the books I read. I really like the last picture you put in your essay…it’s very fitting. Books and imagination in general is so fascinating because we feel close to, identify with, and are moved by people who don’t even exist. I think this is a really amazing thing!

    ~Aspen

    • I agree, Aspen. The human psyche is amazing, isn’t it. I love that last picture too – it really illustrates the close connection we can have with a book.
      Many thanks for visiting and commenting. 🙂

      • Yes, the human psyche is amazing…In fact I personally thing that imagination and using our connection to fictional worlds should be used more in counseling, helping us understand the real world, and education in general. 🙂

        ~Aspen

  3. I often become very close to the characters I read about. I loved the characters in the The Fortunes of Richard Mahony and got quite depressed when the book ended. Its such an enormous book and they had become like family to me!

  4. I’ve often experienced what you describe Linda. When I have that kind of experience I know what I’m reading is really good. Great post.

  5. Rings true for me too. When I’m so enmeshed with the characters there’s a tension between wanting to know what happens next and not want the book to end. Wonderful when that happens. Excellent post 🙂

  6. When I was young, the characters in the books became my friends. I remember being very sad over some of the events in the life of Beth (in Little Women). As a young woman, I became deeply involved as I followed the fortunes of Miss Elizabeth Bennet. Another favourite of mine is the world of James Herriot. But there are so many… 🙂


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