Writer's Law of Attachment
By Jeff Bennington
Author of Reunion and other thrillers
If you follow The Writing Bomb, you know that I’ve just recently completed a 45-day blog tour followed by a trip to Washington D.C and New York City. Both events were exciting but absolutely wore me out. The kids had a chance to see the nations Capital and much of NYC and I had a chance to rest my brain.
I resumed writing this past week and man do I miss it! I wrote a little during the blog tour, but not enough. And now, after being away from my latest work for over a month, I’ve had the pleasure of reacquainting myself with my characters, those good friends that I’ve learned to love. In doing so, I’ve been thinking about what it means to become attached to a character, those figments of my imagination. I’ve been wondering if it’s okay to befriend them or if I should keep a healthy emotional distance. If you have any thoughts on this subject I’d love to hear it.
In the meantime, what I’ve found is that the more I dive into the lives of my characters, the more real they become. And the more real they become, the more I want to know and understand who they are and where they’ve been. This isn’t a concept that I dwell upon. I’m crashing into this idea because I’m working on a third draft and I’m filling in details and backstory and critical thoughts that are rounding my make-believe friends.
The question is, is it wrong to grow attached to these people in the process? And that’s where I’m stuck. I write stories about people that don’t exist. They’re not real. They’re fictional but they’re meant to come alive. And if they’re meant to seem real to a reader than I think it’s okay for me to get emotionally attached. It’s what gets me into the story. In my opinion, attachment is what makes the author capable of transmitting an idea into something palpable. Attachment is what allows me to enter the mind of a protagonist and think and live on his or her behalf. I call it the Law of Attachment: A reader will relate to the people in a story to the degree that the author has grown attached to those people.
If you’re a writer, you understand that experience. It’s almost spiritual in nature and I think this experience is what keeps me writing. This strange relationship between author and character is the high I often refer to, the shot in the arm that causes writers to become literary junkies. Makes me wonder if author adrenalin can be measured and used as a tool to discover ones predisposition to writing. Hey! You never know. Science has proven some pretty incredible things.
Anyway, if you’re a reader, none of this really matters except the fact that the process might interest you. In the end, all that matters is that the book draws you in and that you can engage with the characters as they make their way through the journey. But know this, the folks inside those pages are friends of mine; they’re friends of King and their friends of Koontz and Konrath and Nicholson. And one day, if all goes as planned, they'll be your friend too. BOOM!
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