Bringing characters to life

This is cross-posted at The Season.

One of the biggest reasons I’m a romance fan is that the genre thrives on strong characters. A good romance novel will put human behavior under a microscope and expose all the nuance of our emotions.

Reading a novel can make me feel like I’ve met new friends, or become part of a new community or family. I don’t mean that in a pathetic way. I love my family, friends and (sometimes) community. But I also love escaping into a new world, and well-written characters draw me in like nothing else.

I don’t know about you, but I start getting sad when I’m about 20 pages from the end of a book I love. I despise saying goodbye to people I’ve come to admire. If they’ve made me laugh or cry, I feel even worse (and let’s not mention those rare characters who make me laugh AND cry).

So today I’m giving everyone a magic potion.  This potion will let you bring one character to life for a week.

Persuasion coverThe character I’d choose comes from a Jane Austen novel, Persuasion. I’d want to meet Captain Wentworth – not just so I could swoon over him (though there would certainly be significant swooning involved).

I’d want to know about his naval experiences. He must’ve seen some serious badass battles to have earned money and respectability as a sailor. And, let’s face it, judging from the letter he writes his heroine Anne, the man has a stunning way with words. I’d want to hear his beautiful, deep voice telling me stories about life in Regency England—on land and sea.

I can see two problems with my magic potion. First, real people can be disappointing.

What if Captain Wentworth looked around my neighborhood—the docklands of London—and recognized that in his time it was known for cheap prostitutes and press gangs who knocked men out and sold them to ships’ captains? I’m sure he didn’t act like a saint during those years in between being rejected by Anne and then meeting her again. Jane Austen was probably too much of a lady (and too good a writer) to include information like that. What if Captain Wentworth wanted to revisit his sleazy days and told me about all the doxies he’d done?

What if he got really excited about how penicillin could help him with his itchy medical issue?

Second problem: sending him back to the pages of his novel after a week. If he really turned out as admirable as he is in Persuasion, I’d hate to say goodbye. Of course, I know he’d need to get back to Anne, and I’d never try to take the place of his heroine. I love Anne too much for that. But I’d miss spending time with my unusual new friend.

Unless, of course, he refused to adopt the modern habits of daily showering and deodorant–wearing. In which case, Anne can have him.

If you could bring one fictional character to life for a week, who would it be and what would you do? Is there a heroine you’d share a pitcher of margaritas with? A hero you’d smooch? Or would you prefer to keep characters where they belong?


  1. I would love to meet Sugar from ‘The Crimson Petal and the White’. Some time travel would be involved on one of our behalves, but that wouldn’t hold me back.

    Mostly I would like to tell Sugar that I think she rocks – more appropriately phrased to appeal to her Victorian sensibilities, of course. Also I would love to find out what happened to her after the novel’s ending.

    Would we catch up over a cup of tea like proper gentlewomen or would we do so while nervously sipping at our whiskies in the corner of some dingy bar? I guess that all depends upon her current status…

    1. I’ll admit, Gemma, I haven’t read that book. But you have me intrigued. And I wonder how a Victorian woman would interpret “You rock.”

      It would be great to bring a character to life when you’re curious about what happens after The End. It can be so hard to let good characters go.

      1. It’s a fantastic book (and now a series by the BBC). I highly recommend it.

        I’m really keen to read Persuasion. When I get around to it I’ll definitely look out for Captain Wentworth!

        1. It’s a BBC series? I’ll have to keep an eye out for it.

          Persuasion is my all-time favorite Austen. It’s just brilliant.

        2. The series only started recently. I’m finding it’s a pretty good representation of the book. I’m not sure how many episodes they have planned, though.

    1. I really need to read the In Death series. I keep hearing such amazing things, but there are so many that it’s overwhelming.

      And I’d love to have my characters come to life, too, Terry. But mostly so I can ask them what the hell happens in their story and make writing less torturous.

  2. Forget that, I’ll be selfish and swooning! Lol! I’d definitely bring Jacob from Twilight to life so I could tell him I could love him way better than Bella…you know, if I wasn’t married. 😉

    A more responsible choice would be Dumbledore. I think he is probably my favorite character of all time. His wisdom alone is his magic trick. Maybe we could share a bag of Bertie Bott’s Every Flavor Beans. 😀

    1. Dumbledore would be GREAT to bring to life! Imagine taking him to a Halloween party. So much better than any living magician.

  3. The first character that came to mind is Rhett Butler from “Gone with the Wind.”. I wouldn’t want to traumatize him by bringing him in to our century (though, give him a day or two to acclimate, and he’d be fine), and I refuse to wear the torture they called clothes back in the Civil War era, so I guess we’d have to meet in Tahiti—survivors of a ship wreck or some such. After a few days of lounging in the sun to recover from the rigors of being castaways, I’m sure he’d figure out a way for us to get back to civilization.

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