We Survived… Fictitious Situations

17 Feb

I was sitting in English class today, doing what I usually do in that class. Reading. One of my closets friends was sitting next to me, and doing the same.

She suddenly looks up from her book (City of Ashes by Cassandra Clare) and glances over at me mumbling something about where “The Silent City” was. I answered her and she goes:

“Oh Yeah! We went there in the last book”

I gave her a funny look and responded, ” We went there?”

by that point I had begun giggling a bit, and my friend rolls her eyes and says to me:

“Yes WE. I travel with these characters. We survived a lot of things together!”

Then she began spouting off all of the things she had “survived” (numerous near death experiences of the supernatural and mortal kind).

I just laughed, and said “Oh yeah? Well I survived the Hunger Games… twice.” At which point I laughed at my own joke.

Why have I just recounted this little English class mumbling? Because even though I laughed at her, later I thought: she’s right. She is ABSOLUTELY RIGHT.

Every time we read we live the book (or at least the good ones) we smile,and travel, and cry, and nearly die. Sometimes we actually do…

I have lived a thousand lives, and fallen in love a hundred times. I have thrown daggers, and been struck by them. I have bled and watched others bleed. I have fainted under the heat of the sun, and tasted the salt of the ocean in my mouth.

I have survived a million lives.

And that as writers should be OUR GOAL! We need our readers to travel with our characters, to hold hands with them, and not just watch them. They need to be there. A player in the game not a bystander. Readers need to be involved. Grabbed by their throats and yanked into the text.


Give them something to hold. In other words give them information that they know that other characters don’t. Give them secrets, give them something to latch onto that makes them feel like they have a part in the novel. By giving a reader “something to hold”, you make them feel just as responsible for the turn out of the novel as the other characters (even if they won’t affect the outcome at all).

Another thing that will further the above technique is making characters relate-able. I don’t know how much I’ve stressed this to writer friends, but giving characters things that others can understand is important. By implanting a similar characteristic of a reader into a character you encourage the reader to create an emotional attachment to the character. This gives them an investment in the character, and thus in the novel.

Convincing a reader to survive alongside a character is hard work and takes a lot of practice, but using these two tips can help you lay the ground work.

What have you all survived recently?



10 Responses to “We Survived… Fictitious Situations”

  1. Naomi February 18, 2012 at 6:17 am #

    Great post, and your friend is absolutely right, I agree. I, too, have survived The Hunger Games twice… ;]
    My most recent read (and I have to say, it was a very good one, I spent all night reading it until 7:30am the next day) was Paper Towns, by John Green, who is an incredible writer. I definitely felt like I was living the story through Q (the MMC)’s eyes, felt like I was friends with his friends, and felt like I was there during their 21 hour road trip to try and save Margo (if you haven’t read Paper Towns, you are probably lost by now), so I definitely agree that we live the stories we read (at least, the good ones) and I’ll have to try and keep in mind that I want the reader to feel like they are living the story when they read mine.

    PS. I’m new to your blog, and I’m also a new writing blogger, and I have to say I love your blog, your articles are thoughtful and well written, top quality stuff. Just thought I’d let you know that πŸ™‚

    • nkeda14 February 18, 2012 at 9:29 am #

      Thanks. I haven’t read Paper Towns yet, but I’ve heard ridiculously good things about John Green.

      I’ll be sure to check out your blog when I get a chance. I appreciate you taking time to comment! Glad you like the blog. πŸ™‚

  2. Aly Hughes February 18, 2012 at 10:56 am #

    I love this post! I, too, have lived numerous lives in many worlds including this one. I’m currently trekking around NYC with Oscar from Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close by Jonathon Safron Foer. πŸ™‚

    • nkeda14 February 18, 2012 at 5:07 pm #

      Thanks! You’ll have to tell me how you like that book. I’ve been debating on picking it up myself.

  3. Kylie February 18, 2012 at 3:16 pm #

    This is an awesome post!

  4. harmamae February 21, 2012 at 2:12 pm #

    I used to always hide books underneath my desk! Especially in math class, but I didn’t always escape being noticed by the teacher. πŸ™‚
    Well, my survival stories include being to Mordor several times, and back, on barefeet, which sounds pretty cool when you think about it.

    • nkeda14 February 21, 2012 at 5:43 pm #

      Yes, very cool!

      And I hide books under my desk all the time in math! Though, I usually get caught as I sit in the front… it is rather discouraging!LOL

      • Naomi February 21, 2012 at 5:47 pm #

        I like to read in chem class because the big lab blocks are easier to hide my books under haha πŸ™‚ But mostly I stick to writing because it’s more discreet and even though I’m at the back in class, I go to a very small private school and there are only 13 of us in my class, so teachers notice a lot more.

      • nkeda14 February 21, 2012 at 9:14 pm #

        Oh yes science tables! Very useful for concealing books!

        That is unfortunate that you can’t get away with it more often… or if your bad at chemistry then I suppose it is fortunate as your forced to listen. Personally I’m not exactly in love with chemistry!

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