We’ve all had them. Characters that we wish with all of our might were actually real people, because they would be our perfect match. Or so we think, at least. Stories naturally grab at our emotions; it’s what makes us so invested in the book we are reading. One of those emotions is love, whether we like it or not. It’s natural and it’s fun. Here are some pros and cons of having a literary crush. And feel free to add your own in the comments below!
Pro: You become emotionally attached, and therefore keep reading.
Reading is always a great thing. It helps both mentally and emotionally. Life without reading would just be boring. Reading the adventures of our favorite character gets us all to turn page after page, curious for more of what our crush is up to. When reading The Martian, I could not put that thing down, because I had become attached to Mark Wattney and was sincerely concerned about him. When he said in the book that no woman was ever interested in him because he was a geeky scientist, I said “me! Me! Pick me!”. He was my kind of man, so I wanted to keep tabs on his journey on Mars.
Con: They aren’t real.
Unfortunately, authors can take their time to create the perfect character, with the exact mix of traits that would cause anyone to fall head over heels. That becomes a dangerous standard for when you go from the book to looking at the real world. Mr. Darcy may have the perfect amount of broodiness mixed with confidence and sincerity, but the chances are that you would not be able to go out on the street and find a normal person with those exact characteristics that made fictional Darcy so appealing. Dang you, Jane Austen!
Pro: You get to spend a long time with them.
It is so nice when you meet a character at the beginning of a story, and know that you have hundreds of pages to spend with them. You get to know them well, and can even predict their thoughts or actions. It is so nice to look at your book and see that you are only half way through. You will get to spend many more hours in their company to watch their life slowly unfold before your eyes. There is nothing better than reading about every little detail, thought, and action of the character you love. You always want more, and it’s there for the taking.
Con: Your life just seems a little emptier when you close the book for the night.
You spend hours wadding through a story, taking every twist and turn with the character, as if your life was also affected by what happens to the character. When you close the book, poof. It’s as if nothing had every happened. You look up from the pages and they are not there with you. You can’t discuss your thoughts with them, or give them some advice you had. They surely live, but only in the confines of the pages in your hands. The separation can sometimes be harsh.
Pro: They will never change.
Everyone loves consistency. The author captured this character in black and white. Nothing about them will ever change. For the characters you can’t stand, this is bad, because you usually wish for them to have a change of heart. But once a villain, always a villain. The same goes for your character crush. They will always have the arrogance that you love to hate or the steadfast and upright attitude that raises them up in your sight. And they will always say the right things. We can read those lines and give a heart-heavy sigh every single time, because our character will always mean them deeply and earnestly.
Con: You are in danger of becoming too attached.
When reading and reading and reading, being constantly surrounded by that character, you can get almost stuck in the story. I had an experience where I was reading a book where the main character was getting hated on by all the other characters, and I was in a foul mood during the entire few days it took me to read through that. I was so invested that it seeped into my normal life. Real life is out there, and usually does not resemble to story you are reading at that exact moment. There comes a time when you have to separate yourself, for fear of over-attachment.
Pro: They are a great way to find characteristics for a future and real life crush.
Reading lots of books gives you lots of opportunities to be exposed to a wide variety of characters. This gives you a great pool of candidates as well as their many traits to choose from. Now, we know that it is impossible to find every single trait in one single person, as these books often show us that each character has their faults, but there will always be certain things that appeal to us more than others. Obviously, reading about a character with a certain trait is different than any real life interaction, but it is an easy and harmless way to become aware of what suits you and what does not.
If you can create characters that your readers fall in love with, then you are on the right path. You want your reader to invest their emotions into your story, and you can make that happen by creating strong and desirable characters, even if that desire is to hate them rather than love them. Evoke some stronger emotion, and your readers will be hooked.
Though it’s hard, we must all remember that our favorite literary characters are not real. We can love them as we read about them, but we must also love the real people around us. They inspire the stories that we read, and they bring that love to life on the page.