Friday, August 26, 2011

Characters: In a Bubble From Reality?

I've had a hard time engaging in things lately. Not sure how to describe it, but after an extremely busy summer, I'm tired and slowly building my reserves back up. I'm going through the motions with household chores and even something as simple as writing a blog post leaves me stumped. It's as if my creativity is shouting, "Please, Ma, let me sleep one more hour."

Our relaxing deck. One of my favorite spots to read and zone out.

In fact, I just spent 45 minutes skimming online newspapers in the hopes a blog topic would spark. It didn't. So not knowing what else to do, I glanced out our patio door at the gorgeous flowers and pretty wicker furniture and realized maybe I did have a topic.

In my books, my main characters are focused on the plot issues at hand. They rarely worry about the world events happening that day or current politics, how the country's economy is faring, what big ticket item they long to purchase, or if they just spent an hour doing dishes, vacuuming, and sorting clothes to drop off at a charity. In other words, they're in a special bubble--they're detached from the hundreds of stimuli that seem to assault me on a daily basis.

Right now, I can't muster the energy to care about the downgrade in the U.S. credit rating, the fall of the stock market, if Amy Winehouse's body had drugs in it or didn't when she died, if Kim Kardashian's wedding was the event of the summer, or if unemployment is on the rise or fall. And you know what? My characters don't either.

They reside in a bubble from reality, and sometimes I need a few days in the bubble too.
Soon, I'll be engaged in current events. What seems so unimportant to me now will be important again, but in the meantime, I'm enjoying the freedom my characters have.

If you're a writer, do your characters enjoy a detachment from current events? Or do they discuss what they've read in the daily paper?

Enjoy your Friday!


  1. You have a lovely deck, Jill! It looks like a place I'd cozy up too. :)

    Generally, my characters are in a bubble. Except my journalist. She's all about making headlines.

    I don't think bubbles are so bad for a while! Have a great weekend.

  2. ya know...I never thought about my characters and if they read the newspaper. Interesting point. I guess my characters do live in a bubble. Have a great weekend and hope you get to enjoy your backyard bubble.

  3. No - wouldn't that date your manuscript pretty quickly? Unless it was bigger more lasting topics like global warming and natural disasters.

  4. No, I really haven't. To Laura's point, I thought that might date my work. If something is ongoing I'll mention it, but I usually leave sudden current events out.

    And Kim K. is getting married. Huh, who knew? ;)

    ~ Wendy

  5. I haven't given this any thought. My characters are concerned about what's happening around them because it's impacting their daily lives.

    Susan :)

  6. Good morning!

    Jessica P: Thanks--I love my backyard. It's a blessing! And, yeah, your character would be into daily headlines!!

    Em: Same here! The heroine in my last book does read weekly magazines, though. :)

    Laura: Exactly. That's the main reason I don't include topical news. But more than that, my characters aren't emotionally invested in the daily goings-on of the rest of the world. It's kind of nice!

    Wendy: I don't include current events either. I do use the down economy in my stories because it directly affects the plot, but for the most part, I steer clear of current references. Oh, and Kim K. already tied the knot! Last weekend!

    Susan JR: Mine too. They don't really have the time and energy to worry about next year's presidential candidates because they have enough problems!

    Thanks so much for stopping by!

  7. Do my characters comment on the newspaper? It depends. My historical series, Avenue of Dreams, launches with The Pursuit of Lucy Banning next May. The newspaper matters to the characters in these books because I have written characters into the action of controversial historical events. Archives of the New York Times and Chicago Tribune tell me exactly what my characters would be seeing in the papers. Another series has a contemporary setting, so no, I don't want to date the stories too closely, so characters are in a bubble where only what's happening to them matters.

  8. I count on that bubble when I read, so I offer it in my stories too. Get rid of the mundane, that's my motto!

  9. I wish we were sharing tea on that deck right now! :)

    My characters are insulated from much of what is going on in the outside world, though this is a good reminder to put the story into context, perhaps including a nod to something going on in world/national events. :)

  10. Well, since my main characters are counterterrorist operatives, they tend not to worry about things like Kim Kardashian's wedding, Amy Winehouse's untimely death, or the high unemployment. They're more worried about catching the bad guys...and living to not-tell about it! Compared to their worries, the plunging stock market, Hurricane Irene and declining home prices are tame! So, I have it a lot easier than my characters...for which I am most grateful!

  11. My characters are bubble people...I think they have to be - otherwise we'd be writing non-fiction. And we want the fantasy, right?!? :)

    PS: Love your deck.

  12. I write historicals, so I can use events happening in the world around my characters since my stories are already dated. At times, when it serves the story, I love to weave in actual events, both local and national. I have access to microfilm issues of my local paper (the oldest continuous one in California) dating back to the Gold Rush days, so it's easy for me to find out when local events took place.

    Your porch looks like such an inviting place. Wish I could drop by for a visit, sit there with you, and talk writing.

  13. Sweet Jill, you must have read my mind today. :)

    Sometimes, my characters do refer to day-to-day happenings or events that are taking place worldwide. When I write, I try to concentrate more on the story that's unfolding between the hero/heroine. As you indicated, it's nice every now and again to take out our bottle of bubbles!

  14. My characters are usually children and as such, they care mostly about themseoves. My first book was sort of a quest story, so the main character did care for his world. Fantasy and historical fiction seem to fit into this pattern.

  15. Great points being brought up here!

    Olivia: One thing I love about historical fiction is that the author can inject real facts into the story. It's fun seeing real events pop up!

    Eileen: Right on! And why include anything not directly plot-related, right? :)

    Erica: Oh, so do I! I even have a healthy banana/chocolate chip bar we could share. I like the word "insulated." That sums it up for me!

    Patrice: Your characters have MUCH bigger problems than the latest Kardashian drama! Ha!!

    Kristina: Yes. I love getting wrapped up in a story and not worrying about anything else! (And thank you about my deck!)

    Keli: I wish you could too! It's so sunny and mild here today--perfect outside-chatting-about-writing day. And I enjoy reading real facts in historical fiction. It always resonates with me!

    Cynthia: Same here! And I'm enjoying my bubble very much. :)

    Nancy: Oh, absolutely! Children don't necessarily care about world events. It would be odd to include them in a children's book!

    Thanks so much for stopping by!

  16. It's healthy for everyone to unplug from the daily news once in awhile. Whether we realize it's happening or not, current events have a way of seeping into our subconscious and draining us. I don't put current events in my stories for the same reason I read romance: it's my way of tuning out the 'real world' while I replenish my happiness reserves!

  17. I love that deck and your yard. Wow.

    I write fantasy, so my characters are concerned with the world around them, but it's all made up and has nothing to do with our economy, etc.

    As for me? I like to be in that bubble every now and then, too. It can be overwhelming and disheartening to the point of sadness, so a break once in awhile is good for my soul.

  18. Nice yard and inviting.

    My characters do not detach from current events. I write Civil War era and the war is very present in every character's mind.

    I hope you get your energy back soon. My friend, who burns the candle at both ends, was feeling the way you do and found she was anemic - just something to think about.

  19. I'm jealous of your deck and back yard. Very pretty!

    I'm too addicted to the Internet to stay in a bubble, but I know what you mean about the creativity wanting to nap. I can't just turn it on like "they" say you should.

    My characters are somewhat concerned with the world around them, but since I write suspense, they're more focused on solving the immediate dangers.

    Great post!

  20. Pretty deck, Jill. The view behind you looks so peaceful.

    My characters mention the current events of their time somewhat. Since I write historicals, I think I have a bit more freedom in letting my characters do this. No worries about any news becoming outdated, since, well, it already happened. Another great thing about that is there's little chance of offending anyone. If I were writing about contemporary characters, I'd be worried about offending readers, especially in the highly polarized news media we have now.

  21. My characters are sort-of-kinda in a bubble from reality. I'm writing YA, and they are definitely on top of things regarding pop culture, but news and world events that really matter? No, not really.

  22. Jill:
    I like your deck and the furniture. Writing Christian essays, I don't use characters like you do. But, when I tried, I had them concerned about themselves and their world.

  23. Definitely nothing wrong with finding relief in a temporary bubble, Jill! Enjoy it! :)

    My characters are generally in a bubble, too, unless the plot calls for otherwise. You know, I'd never thought about it, but I think most writers would say their characters are in a bubble. I'm pretty sure that unless it directly added to the advancement of the plot or character development, a scene with characters discussing news headlines would quickly be dumped. :) Right?

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  25. Ayda: Same here! It's nice to escape from the gloom-and-doom!

    Tameri: So true. I stopped watching the news for years because it tied me into knots! I still seem to know what's going on, so it works for me. :)

    Loree: Oh, if your characters weren't concerned with the war every minute, I'd be surprised! And vitamins are so important. :)

    Stacy: We are very blessed to have a spacious yard! And I like the Internet for keeping up because I can choose to skim a headline or read the entire article!

    Brandi: Very true! It's probably fun to include local news in your books. And I'm with you--we have to tread carefully with contemporary books.

    Tiffany: I can totally relate to your characters--that's me right now!

    QuietSpirit: Good point--I think characters should be concerned about more than themselves too.

    Jennifer: Absolutely! It would be inappropriate to "plug" current events in just for the sake of it. :)

    Thanks so much for stopping by!


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