Aug 27, 2012

Posted by in Question | 12 Comments

Question – When You Read, Do You Become The Main Character?

I love chatting with my readers.  Last week, I was chatting with the lovely Anne (@Northwomn).  She is really fun to talk to.  We were just talking books when she asked me “Do you become your character when you read?”  My first thought was not how to answer her; my first thought was “OMG that would make a great Question!!!” So it’s thanks to Anne that we have this amazing topic to discuss this week.

Do I become the main character when I read?  I would say yes I do.  In my head I become the heroine..but not every time.  It only really happens to me when I am completely connecting with her – that is the most important thing for me.  If there is no connection, I stay myself watching from the sidelines. But if I do connect with the story and the heroine, I stay ‘as her’ for the entire book…with one exception:  I detach myself when I get to the sex scenes. I know right?!  You would think that would be the time I would most want to be the heroine!!  But for those scenes I become…I don’t even know how to explain it.  It’s not even like I’m someone watching from the corner – which is a very creepy idea.  It’s almost like I’m watching it all go down (*snort* go down) on television or something.  Then as soon as the ‘act’ is done I go back to being the heroine, warmed by the afterglow and all snuggled up tight in the hero’s super yummy arms and stroking his perfect abs.

It also happens more for me with an Urban Fantasy book.  Not exactly sure why but it may have something to do with the fact that you tend to follow the same heroine for more than one book and, more often than not, urban fantasy tales are told using the first person perspective.  Kate Daniels, Allie Beckstrom and Secret McQueen are a few examples of heroine I ‘become’ while I read them each and every time I crack open one of their books.

How about you?  When you read, do you become the main character?

Anne brought something else to my attention during our conversation:  What about the men?  If a book is told by a man (example Atticus in Kevin Hearne’s The Iron Druid Chronicles series) do you ‘become’ him?

  1. Northwoman says:

    Thanks Julie! And yes, if the man tells the story I become him, too, if I really LOVE the book.

  2. I don’t become the characters but once I really start getting into it I picture what’s going on, like a mini movie in my head.

  3. in general i do think i become the main character, esp if it’s in first person. i definitely need to feel something for the character in order to make this work. i think this holds true for male main characters as well though i probably relate easier to the female characters.

    thanks for the fun topic!

  4. What a great question!! This one really made me think too. It’s not as easy of a question to answer as it may seem on the surface.

    For my part, I read like I dream, oddly enough. I don’t become the characters I read as much as I’m sort of a visitor in their head. A mental hitchhiker. I see things through their eyes, feel what they feel, but maintain my distinct identity. And as a ghost in their mind, sometimes I step out and view things in third person (during epic fights and the like), but then step back in for the emotional stuff.

    If I truly became the protagonist, would I really have the urge to smack them upside the head? 😉 Probably not. I’m assuming I’d have perfect empathy for their actions no matter how frustrating.

    Because of this sort of odd dissociative identity approach to reading, I find the sex of the character does not matter. Male or female – I’m along for the ride.

    Unfortunately I “hitchhike” every time, even with characters I don’t connect with. This is the why bad characters will make me loathe a book quicker than any other story element. If I am indeed an unwitting visitor in a fictional mind, imagine the torture of having to endure hours of being trapped in a mind flooded inane thoughts, vapid ponderings, and foolhardy plans. No matter how much I groan, roll my eyes, or threaten violence, they just don’t listen up and get their act together. It makes me want to rage out hulk style. : )

    – Mithrendiel

  5. I don’t think I become them but I think I join them on their quest. Even if it is a historical romance and the ladies are discussing their dilemmas I can feel like I’m in the same room with them talking. But no, I don’t become them.

  6. Northwoman – Really loving the book is very important, I agree.

    Paranormal Haven – I get the mini movie too sometimes. I think I bounce from being the character to the movie thing throughout the book. lol

    fishgirl182 – Definitely easier to be the heroine. I agree with you there. 🙂

    Jessica – Hmm…what does that say about me I wonder. I am the character yet I still want to smack them sometimes. I really must pay more attention next time because I am starting to think I zone in and out depending on the situation in the book. If it’s not too pleasant then it’s not me, it’s her. lol

    Michelle – Being in the same room is sort of cool too. Like being right in the middle of it all without having to actually deal with any of it. 🙂

  7. What an awesome question… Kinda hard to answer! For me… it’s like watching a live action movie. I’m *there* but I’m not the characters per se. I can become completely engrossed in the story and I feel like I can reach out and touch the characters, but they are still separate from me. It’s like I have the power of invisibility and I’m following real people around… that sounds kinda freakish, but it’s the best way I can describe it.

  8. wow ok you’re right it’s a good question. I never thought of it… But I’ll have too see when I read my book, but I think I’m with them without really be them. But I think you’re right when I can relate a character it’s easier to be her. I’ll have to really think about it.

  9. I’m a voyeur when it comes to book characters. I let the book play out like a film across my mind’s eye.

  10. Northwoman says:

    I thought of something else. I possibly even “become” them even if I don’t like everything they do. But in those situations I like the book less.

    Becoming them, allows me to be smart or kick-ass or sexy or stupid or even male, in a way that is safe because it’s not real. It’s either the ultimate escape or the ultimate way to have a fantasy. When the book ends, it’s over. (Until the next book?!?!)

  11. erinf1 – Invisibility! I like that. 🙂

    melliane – It is something we need to think about. Whatever it is we do, it’s without notice on our part and now we have to pay attention. lol

    Dot – A voyeur. I like that word for this Question. Works very well.

    Northwoman – You can be who you want and it’s okay because it’s not real! I think that’s why I do it too.

  12. I become part of his head space,but no necessarily him. Though with Atticus I can admit I am totally there, he has asexual characteristics that allow me to fit right into HIM. This is a great and I am so going to add this to my Monday reading!

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