If you’re like me, you sometimes finish a great book, sigh, and say, “I wish I could live in this world.” That sounds great…until you really think about what being a main character in a novel might involve. (Or maybe you still think it sounds great even after all that.) Here are some of the reasons for and against wanting to be a fictional character.
You’d get to meet and interact with some delightful characters, from outrageously quirky to lovably charming. (Although she loves her Porter family, Becky Wade has covered fictional heroes in a way that might put this toward the “con” side of things…)
Your life would never be boring. Conversations would lack the normal lulls of small talk, and your daily routine would be quickly interrupted by some kind of conflict or chaos. Mundane details like sorting laundry or vacuuming crushed Cheerios from the van would be replaced by confrontations, acts of heroism, and dramatic chase scenes, possibly on horseback. What’s not to like?
You could be reasonably sure that you were working toward a happy (or at least hopeful) ending, one with some clear resolution to it. That might not always look like what you expected it to at the beginning (Delilah and A Haven on Orchard Lane, I’m looking at you), but sometimes real life doesn’t have the same sense of conclusion as novels do.
As a fictional character, chances are you’d have a few details of your life that set you apart from everyone else, whether that’s a sudden inherited fortune, an incredible talent for delivering witty one-liners, or actual magical abilities.
Besides the general not-being-real thing…you’d be under the complete control of an author. And authors can be a little sadistic sometimes. (No offense to all you writers out there. You know it’s true.) The kind of trauma they’d put you through on the way to a happy ending might not be worth it.
Even if you’re the star of the book, there’s at least a 25% chance your head will be lopped off on the cover. (For those who wonder why some covers feature partially-decapitated women, part of it is an artistic/style choice for a particular look, and part of it is because readers are divided on whether they want to see a character’s face or visualize it in their own imaginations. Although I like Regina Jennings’s explanation too.)
If you accidentally stumbled into the plot of, say, a Dani Pettrey or Dee Henderson novel, chances are good you’ll be running for your life for the next several weeks. Or if your world is suddenly a Julianna-Deering-esque mystery, chances are one or more people around you will drop dead, and who wants to deal with that?
Assuming your setting forces you to go back in time, on the plus side, the dresses are prettier. On the minus side, you’d face a significantly lower life expectancy and no Internet, indoor plumbing, or iced caramel lattes, among other downsides. Makes the modern world look pretty good, doesn’t it?
Your turn! Can you think of any pros or cons to being a fictional character in your favorite novel?