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You're the Voice: Introducing Leah and fictional characters

Jul 01,2013
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File 15477Happy school holidays! Happy July! Happy new You're the Voice!  This month's resident teen blogger is Leah.

Leah is a thirteen year old with waaay too little time on her hands, yet she still finds the time to read and chat for hours on Goodreads. Her other hobbies include: leaving her homework until the last minute, being quiet and writing stories. 

Welcome, Leah!


I will start with the belief that (just guessing) the people reading this all have a certain love for reading. Particularly, fiction (because facts are overrated).

If I stick with this belief, I can now state that the reader in question either:

1. is friends with;
2. is a follower of;
3. is madly in love with;
4. is positive that they are a distant relation of;
5. is a son/daughter of;
6. admires;
7. or even, is
...a fictional character

It’s just this trait we have.

In fact, we associate ourselves with these characters so much that they become sort of real in our heads - living, breathing people (or otherwise), not just a collection of letters on a page.

Yeah, I know, they’re supposed to be represented as a person, animal or otherwise. They’re written to be like that. It’s why we write books. It’s the reason we don’t die in a pit of overwhelming doltish-ness... that’s probably not even a word...

It’s as if they become something more. They develop in our heads. They get facial features, for goodness’ sake. They become real.

That’s not to say they come jumping out of the pages and start to gallivant around in your bedroom. That’s probably not possible, unless you bring a whole lot of resources and a few technical geniuses onto the scene.

But they still live on in our minds, developing and changing to fit our own understanding of the character. They start to get life and form, their history and adventures being shaped and reshaped to fit the story you’re reading or the movie you’re watching.

And, slowly and surely, they turn into a being as real in your head as this crazy world we live in.

Let’s create a character of our own as an example.

His name is Riven. He’s a fearless warrior from a magical kingdom alongside our reality. His hair flows like the river and his piercing eyes hold no mercy as he hunts down his enemies, of which there are many.

He dresses simply but toughly, preferring to focus on the conflicts ahead. The scars from his battles mark the days of his triumphs, yet nothing hides the anger on his face.

That’s quite a small description, because I want you to fill in the blanks.

File 15483What’s the colour of his hair? The colour of his eyes? What do his clothes look like? Why has he got lots of enemies? Where does he live?

Why is he angry?

And, as impossible to answer as those questions might sound (with the information provided), your mind is already answering them with possibilities and ideas and information derived from your own experiences. Riven is separating from the text and jumping into your head, creating himself in your mind.

And that is what our imagination does for us.

And that’s why fictional characters are real.

Well... as real as a bunch of words can be.

Jul 24,2013
anonymous's picture

Riven has blonde, shoulder-length hair and aquamarine eyes. He tosses his hair a lot especially when he's angry.

Wears a worn leather coat down to his ankles.

This is a great exercise for the mind.

Pauline Hosking

Jul 07,2013
anonymous's picture

Like other people here, I thought that Rivan had very pale blue eyes. I was picturing someone looking like a person from Iceland where the environment is harsh and unforgiving.

However, I did not see him as a loner, but as part of a defensive legion against maruaders that were constantly trying to invade the magical kingdom to steal the source of magic. He is angry that his people have not been able to live in peace all of his life.

Jul 04,2013

@Diem:  Very imaginative! Riven's a hermit/saviour of the people, I see.

@Ambivalence: Yes, a nail sounds perfect. Quite provoking, a broken nail. Can turn into complete and utter rage XD

@Tim: 'Tis quite hard, turning into a fictional character. Though, you might still prevail, if you persist. 

@Daydreamer: Your Riven sounds quite barbaric!

I must thank you all for your thoughtful (and hilarious!) comments... quite the confidence-booster! I'm glad you all liked it :) 

- Leah

Jul 04,2013

Haha, ditto to what Diem and ambivalence said. Black hair, blue eyes, clothes are never specific in my mind but I imagined something old and worn. He has lots of enemies because when you go around killing people, their family gets mad. And he doesn't live in one place because he's nomadic. I was about to say the same thing about piercing and blue eyes. x) Also, in my mind he's holding a big club for some reason. :P He reminds me a little of Genghis Khan actually... o.o

Jul 04,2013

Hi Leah - great post! And I'll put my hand up for numbers 1, 2, 3, 4 and 6, and say that I only said no to 5 because I somehow never thought of it (and am now jealous!), and no to 7 because I've been trying for a REALLY long time to be fictional, and it's somehow never worked out...

Jul 02,2013

Weirdly enough, I think I imagined Riven the same way as Diem x) Especially when eyes, because for some reason, when they're described as 'piercing', my brain naturally fills the blanks with 'blue'. Piercing blue. But when it comes to the whys and hows, too many possibilities popped up. Maybe he's angry 'cause he broke a nail. Sometimes the annoyance of a broken nail can turn into complete rage, you know? And maybe he has enemies because they're jealous of his dashing good looks. You know how boys are.

... just a possiblity :P Kudos to your fun post :)

Jul 01,2013

Hi there Leah! 

In my mind, Riven's hair is as black was night, his eyes are blue like a lake. His clothes are made from cow hide and he has many enemies from fighting against the government. He lives in a cave in an island and he's angry because he has just found out that his sister has been kidnapped. 


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