Falling in love with fictional characters

“Love looks not with the eyes, but with the mind.”
― William Shakespeare, A Midsummer Night’s Dream


Valentine’s Day is coming.

Once a year, everything is all hearts and roses. Countless pink and red-wrapped candies tempt us from grocery store shelves. There’s an abundance of jewelry commercials on TV, and pressure on those who are both taken, and single, to make the most out of the Hallmark holiday. I will be spending this Valentine’s Day at the gym, because there is nothing that can keep me from my boxing class, but lately I’ve been remembering the last time I truly enjoyed Valentine’s Day. I was fifteen.

Young and innocent, and very, very single, I dressed up in all the red and pink clothes I owned, tied ribbons in my hair, and walked around my high school with a basket of chocolate and gave hugs out to anyone who offered one. I was blissful in my single state, not being tied to the expectations of any silly boy.

And then I read Price and Prejudice.

I think it’s fair to say that Fitzwilliam Darcy ruined me, and I don’t think I’d be alone in that statement. The epic tortured hero who finds that one plain, simple-yet-intelligent girl and falls desperately, head over heels in love with her. He courts her, despite all the challenges their relationship my face, and inevitably changes for her. It’s textbook romance. Shakespeare was right when he wrote A Midsummer Night’s Dream. Love does look with the mind. After Darcy, I never looked at Valentine’s Day, or a romantic hero, in the same way again.

The characters I read crawled into my mind and became the blueprint for the kind of man I wanted in my life. As I kept reading, eventually deciding to become an English major in college, I came upon many more characters who stole my heart. Always imperfect in such perfect ways, these men were the ideal—mere mortals could never compete with the epic swoons my fictional men inspired. This continued into my thirties, with my recent love affair with young adult characters: Sam from Shiver. Warren and Adam from the Shatter Me series. Four from Divergent. Josh in Sea of Tranquility. And of course, the ever fallible Edward Cullen. What do I love about these fictional men? The same thing that I’m guessing all of you do: they are flawed. Wounded. Beautiful. Real.

And as I sit down to work on my own characters, I want them to be ones other people can fall in love with, too. I hope that when they finally fly from the confines of my computer and imagination into your hands, that you will care for them they way I do. Maybe one of my stories will be something you one day read on a Valentine’s Day, or perhaps even read to someone else. 😉

Happy February, everyone.

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