- Step Back. Ask yourself: “Why do I love the character?” Perhaps one of the things you love the most about him/her is the fact that the character is without substance (he/she is not real, at least not in a corporeal, “sit-down-and-have-a-conversation-with-you” kind of way). How does the character (and the episodes in the novel that compelled you to love the character) compare with your IRL (in-real-life) experiences?
- Pros vs. Cons Consider the character’s other qualities… For every “perfect” character trait, the author likely included a few undesirable personality characteristics. Make a list of the pros and cons (what you love about the character in one column, and what you dislike about the hero/heroine in the other column). At the top of the “con” list, you can write: “_____ is not real. He’s a figment of my (and every other reader’s) imagination!”
- Familiarity. How many times have you read the book? Have you memorized all the character’s main lines? If you have memorized all the scenes, and you’ve imagined yourself sitting beside your fictional love, it may be time to read other books.
- Get critical! Use your intense fascination with the book to conduct a full study of all works by the author, as well as an exhaustive study of the novel itself. (Beyond a simple reading and re-reading, track the characters, look at the critical reception, and learn more about the historical context of the work. Think of it as your way to get to know more about the character you love.
- Book Vs. Movie? Ask yourself: “Am I really in love with the actor who plays the character in the film version?” I’m not suggesting that you suddenly become a stalker, or fall violently into an unrequited love with all the actors as stand in for literary characters. But, it’s a bit easier to have a crush on an actor than it is to be in love with a character in a novel.
- Fan-dom vs. Real Love. Sometimes it’s easy to confuse the feelings of “real love” with the enthusiasm you feel when you are an ultimate FAN. A fan is an aficionado or supporter. That giddy-obsessive feeling that you get when you find a character that represents so many romantic qualities can be can sometimes be confused with the enigmatic (often confusing) feeling of love.
- Support Group or Book Club! After talking with a great many readers over the years, I’m convinced that there are MANY more of you who are in love with their favorite characters than you would imagine. Of course, part of the problem is that it’s not considered quite “normal” to be in love with the character from a book. But, if you are really in love with a character, I urge you to seek out others to share your passion. Start a support group. You can even start a book club–to share the favorite books with others who love their hero/heroine just as much as you do! Don’t go through it alone. Here’s how to start a book club, with rules and standards–to help make your support group/book club a success. You might also want to add a few extra rules that pertain to the nature of your group (perhaps encouraging sensitivity related to the intensity of the emotions that other reader’s feel toward their hero/heroine-love.
In The Secret Life of Prince Charming, Deb Caletti writes:
“It starts so young, and I’m angry about that. The garbage we’re taught. About love, about what’s “romantic.” Look at so many of the so-called romantic figures in books and movies. Do we ever stop and think how many of them would cause serious and drastic unhappiness after The End? Why are sick and dangerous personality types so often shown a passionate and tragic and something to be longed for when those are the very ones you should run for your life from? Think about it. Heathcliff. Romeo. Don Juan. Jay Gatsby. Rochester. Mr. Darcy. From the rigid control freak in The Sound of Music to all the bad boys some woman goes running to the airport to catch in the last minute of every romantic comedy. She should let him leave. Your time is so valuable, and look at these guys–depressive and moody and violent and immature and self-centered. And what about the big daddy of them all, Prince Charming? What was his secret life? We dont know anything about him, other then he looks good and comes to the rescue.”