When characters leap off the pages. Literally.

Some authors have this amazing ability to make their characters so real and vivid you feel as if  they were sitting in the room with you, telling you their story. I love those characters. I wish I could write them, but I know that’s beyond my current abilities.

There are these characters… and then are those who actually jump out of the pages. I watched Ruby Sparks yesterday. It tells about a writer with a horrible case of Writer’s Block who one day dreamed about a girl called Ruby Sparks and started writing feverishly about her, only to have her step out of the pages and become a real person and the object of his affection.

Ruby Sparks

The concept of the movie was pretty interesting, and writers would find it particularly so. Almost everyone can relate to Writer’s Block and the feelings of frustration associated with it, and I’m sure everyone wishes for at least one of their characters to come to life. Ruby Sparks was the writer’s dream girl, and he fell head over heels with her. That sounds great and all, but then the writer crossed a line. Or at least, I thought he crossed a line.

At one point in the movie, Ruby stopped being the perfect girl he wanted. They were having arguments, and he worried she would dump him. To prevent her from going anywhere, he pulled out his manuscript and altered her character to suit his needs. Ruby was moving away, he made her miserable without him. She was depressed, he made her giddy to the point where you’d think she was retarded. He tried to control her and mold her into what he wanted, ignoring what Ruby herself wanted. I’ll leave it up to you to imagine how that went.

I thought this movie touched upon two important topics – loving your characters and setting them free. Some writers love their characters but at the same time try to shape them however they want. Others love them but give them free rein and allow them to develop however they want. I’m in the latter camp. I allow my characters to act however they want, regardless of how outrageous they want to be and what difficulties they end up causing for themselves (and me, since I’d have to solve everything).

I figure if they were real people, they’d hate me for trying to impose my demands upon them… and it would suck if my own characters were to hate me, haha. Spontaneity always seems to work best anyway, right? =]

Do you control your characters or set them free? Have you watched Ruby Sparks? What did you think of it? =D

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24 thoughts on “When characters leap off the pages. Literally.

  1. liquidmatthew says:

    Never seen Ruby Sparks, but it’s on my list now. My characters stay pretty well-behaved so far. None of them have really surprised me yet, unfortunately.

  2. Your description of this movie reminded me of Woody Allen’s film “The Purple Rose of Cairo” where the movie character played by Jeff Daniels leaps off the screen to woo a sad woman played by Mia Farrow. I recommend it, if you haven’t seen it.

    • I’ll be sure to check it out! I’ve also heard that this movie is similar to “Stranger than Fiction”, so I think I’ll take a look at that one too. =D

  3. I haven’t seen the movie, Zen, but it sounds like an interesting concept 😀

    My characters totally control me so I’d hate to see one jump off the page and come to life (look out world!) 😀

  4. Oh, I saw the preview of that one a while back and I thought it sounded great! I’m definitely going to see it. I have no idea how much I control my characters (I don’t think I have any control over them, but they *do* live in my mind, so there must be some sort of control there, right?). As for controlling someone, anyone, but especially someone you apparently love – why would you do something that destroys who they are?

    • It is a pretty cool movie! And I guess the fact that they live in your mind allows us some control, but usually it feels like they’re steering me, not vice versa. That was the main gist of the movie – Ruby was charming, but when the author started controlling her, you could see how much it destroyed what made him love her in the first place.

    • I actually did! I think this is a movie that you either hate or love, and for a moment I had trouble formulating an opinion because in some places it hit too close to home, but I did like it. =]

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