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Why do people relate to fictional characters?
Spaceship Dispatcher
Browsing the BBC website just now, I came across this fascinating column about the nature of fictional characters and our relationships with them; both as writers and readers. How and why do we relate to fictional characters? How can they be both real and unreal at the same time, to be both imaginary and timeless in their own non-existence? Its quite a good read.

Why do people relate to fictional characters?

Of interest generally of course, but of special interest I feel to those of us that are ourselves amateur authors.
Reversing the polarity of the neutron flow. I bet that means something. It sounds great.

Blake's 7: Trojan Horse (s4 fanfic) - Blake's 7: Through the Needle's Eye (s2 fanfic)

Spaceship Dispatcher's fanfic site
 
Travisina
It is interesting (although I find Will Self to be rather pompous).

I once had a conversation with a director - we were working flat out on an episode of something frivolous - might have been 'Fat Friends' - and I was a bit depressed that all our work wasn't actually doing anything that benefited mankind (unlike eg doctors, nurses, dustmen etc). The director disagreed:
"We are the storytellers," she said, "we have an important role in society that dates back to primitive man. People need stories and fictional characters to relate to - it's part of the human spirit."
Twitter: @TravisinaB7
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There's no point being grown up if you can't be childish sometimes
 
JustBrad
It would be absurd to suggest that we think of Anna Karenina as real in the same way we think of people as real, nevertheless we certainly do believe that Anna Karenina believes herself to be a free agent, responsible for making decisions that will alter the course of her life. She could begin the relationship with Vronsky, or she could not.


This is the core of good fiction, of good drama, even of good comedy, whether it's set in Westeros, Manhattan, or a Galaxy Far Far Away: Believable characters making difficult choices and dealing with the consequences.

Which is strange, because we've only to turn to the end of the book to reacquaint ourselves with the facts, which are that Anna Karenina's fate - like those of all fictional characters - was, is, and will always be utterly determined.


This may explain the popularity of computer role playing games. The best games tell a story, yet they give the player (reader) some control over the ending.
 
JustBrad
Travisina wrote:

"We are the storytellers," she said, "we have an important role in society that dates back to primitive man. People need stories and fictional characters to relate to - it's part of the human spirit."


Spielberg says almost exactly the same thing. In fact, the opening credits of his anthology TV series, "Amazing Stories," began with the elder cave man sitting by the fire telling a story to the tribe. There wasn't a word of dialog, but you knew, as if by instinct, what was happening.

Here it is, sorry, but a Spanish dub is all I could find. https://www.youtu...peBGQ1S5t8
Edited by JustBrad on 22 February 2015 22:18:13
 
Ellen York
This is something that I have thought about in the context of my journey into fandom here. Why do our heroes take up so much space in my head to the point of driving me to seek out people who share my interest? The conclusion that I reached is that fiction and fictional characters can serve as a framework for processing real-life situations. I got back into B7 at a time when I was dealing with some issues in my life and could really relate to the "life sucks and you go on" premise of the series. And I do see some of myself in most of the characters. In watching the show I got both some much needed escapism and a way of looking at situations from the perspective of a variety of personality types and it did help me work through some choices. I hope this makes some sort of sense; I'm not sure I am being very clear about it. I do think that stories have an impact on people even if it isn't as obvious as a doctor curing disease.
 
Spaceship Dispatcher
Ellen York wrote:

This is something that I have thought about in the context of my journey into fandom here...
*snip*

...I hope this makes some sort of sense; I'm not sure I am being very clear about it. I do think that stories have an impact on people even if it isn't as obvious as a doctor curing disease.

What you say makes perfect sense, and your experience has some similarity to my own route from being a keen but casual viewer to being part of fandom as a serious and time consuming but important part of my life. As a teenager, I enjoyed both Dr Who and Blake's 7 to the point of obsessively knowing every detail of the former and enthusiastically collecting books, magazines and videos etc for both shows. But then as childhood excitement about the stories being told faded, because it's the who/what/where rather than the why or how of narrative that usually captivates the younger mind, I drifted from both shows to an extent; I still collected and watched Dr Who, and bought the Blake's 7 dvds when they came out, but it was something that I watched and liked rather than having a passion for it. Then I reached a point where I had experiences of my own and began to relate to people; and not only characters, but also seeing those who worked on the show as real people with their own energies and motivations rather than just names in a programme guide. That's when the doors got thrown wide open, and my head filled with so many ideas about what I was watching and the deeper social or emotional background under the surface. There was a whole new appreciation for the creativity in real life of the actors, writers and directors and of the complexities and faux-realities (see article) of the worlds and characters they created. Then I became a 'fan' and started looking for friends to share the experience with, and later started expressing all those ideas in fanfic or by commissioning art, and here I am...
Edited by Spaceship Dispatcher on 23 February 2015 13:36:23
Reversing the polarity of the neutron flow. I bet that means something. It sounds great.

Blake's 7: Trojan Horse (s4 fanfic) - Blake's 7: Through the Needle's Eye (s2 fanfic)

Spaceship Dispatcher's fanfic site
 
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