Last night, in the doctor’s office of all places, my mother and I had another conversation about fictional characters.
We were discussing Wind River and how the main character was separated from his wife because of the death of one of their children. I happened to mention that it’s rare for couples to stay together after something like that, but Claire and Jamie (from Outlander) were able to stay together, even though Claire was devastated.
Mom said “Don’t talk about characters like they’re real.” I assured her that I know the characters are fictional. But after thinking about what she said for a bit, I found myself wondering how we were “supposed” to talk about them.
In conversation, unless we’re explaining something to someone who isn’t familiar with it, we don’t normally say “[Character’s name] from [insert book/movie/TV show here]”. We simply call the character by their name. Because there’s no need to explain that they’re fictional, right? It’s just understood.
But, at the same time, characters are real. To an extent, of course. When you’re reading a book or watching TV, you suspend your disbelief and become immersed in what is happening. Unless, of course, it’s nonfiction, you should be able to.
And when I’m writing, the characters come to life. No one questions whether authors think characters are real. Or do they? I don’t know. And the characters aren’t “more real to me” just because I’m isolated. I don’t have any siblings, and my friends aren’t close to where I live, but it doesn’t make a difference in how I view characters.
Whether or not I think the characters are real just seems like a weird thing to get hung up on, because as far as I know, there isn’t a separate way to talk about them that clarifies that I know they aren’t real.
What do you think about this?