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Thanks To My Character Friends

Every writer has influences in their stories. Some novels contain references and allusions to older stories that are meant as clear recommendations of another book. Other authors bury the inspirations they find in other texts deep within the roots of their own tales, so their work seems completely original to the publishing companies and copyright officers.

I, as a writer, find that these influences are most prominent in characters. Each character is a patchwork, much like a quilt, woven from the bits and pieces of other novelists’ characters, mixed and baked at a high temperature with some traits of the author. But the tales I read tend to shine through not in my characters but in me. The heroes and companions and even villains from every book that I delicately remove from the shelves at Barnes and Noble have a remarkable way of expressing their voices outside of their stories, and speaking to me when I need it most. In short, the characters I read about are my friends.

Few characters are able to truly leap from the pages and stand before me, so like real people that I can’t help wondering if I’ve finally escaped reality forever and have landed myself in their worlds. These few have a profound influence on who I am and who I strive to be, and despite the fact that everyone else finds them irritating, and they usually end up dying, I believe I owe them great thanks for all they have done for me. With these letters, I would specifically like to thank Marisa Coulter from Philip Pullman’s His Dark Materials trilogy, Bilbo Baggins from J.R.R. Tolkein’s The Hobbit, and Matthew Crawley from the popular TV series Downton Abbey. True, it is an odd little group, but oddness is what marks the individual from the crowd, is it not?

Dear Marisa,

You are (or were) living proof that despite all odds, we can overcome the bitterness of the past and redeem ourselves in the future, even when facing all the things we have done with a resentful heart. You have shown me that love is not a concious choice, and that it can lead us to do both great and horrible things, and still believe we can make things right. That belief and tenacity is what led you to a death of tragic heroism, and for that I would like to apologize. You turned around and did your best to right your wrongs, but you never got the chance to show the world that you had done it. You have given me pride in who I am and hope that the people in this universe who have done deeds that they regret can stay true to the love and courage in their heart.

Mr. Bilbo Baggins,

You have undoubtedly proved that even the most unlikely of commoners can become a hero in the end. You are the only character on my list of thanks who does not die, which just goes to show that he who begins the most tame can become the strongest of warriors. Your story has also revealed to me that everything happens for a reason. A stranger at your door is no accident, and even if you embark reluctantly on the journey of your life, it will eventually lead you where you are meant to go. Your story, like those in my life, is a chain of events in which each choice you make leads to another, and to another, and that chain of choices is clear to me now.

Dear Matthew,
You were a mournful addition to the list of characters I owe my thanks to, when your sudden death left me pointing a PVC pipe at the television like it was a bazooka. You always demonstrated both extraordinary kindness and a true honesty that I know some people found irritating. Well, I didn’t. You have led me to always believe in others and to believe in myself, for you trekked a rough path that, after a few joyous, heartwarmingly tender moments, ended in your death. Nonetheless, your unwavering optimism and positive influence on others has always been an inspiration to me when I write, and when I curl up miserably with a box of Girl Scout cookies feeling as wretched as I could be. You were so idealistic; when you had a plan, you always saw it through, even if others believed it was impossible. You have led me to bring every idea that comes into my head to life, not matter how impossible it may be, and to always believe that I can accomplish the goals I set for myself. Your inspiration has given me hope for myself when I most need it, and a dose of self-worth and accomplishment when I finally get messages through in my writing.
I do not claim these characters as my own, though I sometimes wish they were, and I apologize for any spoilers that you experience while reading my letters. Besides, sometimes a little spoiler is needed to get a good point through.

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This article has 3 comments. Post your own!

holly1999 said...
today at 6:06 pm:
Amazing! This was a great idea. I paticularly liked the letter to Matthew (I love Downton Abbey). As well as being inspiring and creative, this peice was also very well written. Great job :)
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RoyalCoronaThis teenager is a 'regular' and has contributed a lot of work, comments and/or forum posts, and has received many votes and high ratings over a long period of time. said...
May 29 at 12:00 pm:
Amazing!! I am so happy that someone actually came up with an article that expresses their love of other characters! I have been saying this stuff in my head since I was in fourth grade, the year that I really started to write. I would spend hours trying to figure out the words that would make those characters realize how special they were to us! This brings so much nostalgia to me, just a wave throughout all of this article! This should become a trend, everyone on Teenink should do this! Great job!
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RarelyJadedThis teenager is a 'regular' and has contributed a lot of work, comments and/or forum posts, and has received many votes and high ratings over a long period of time. This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. said...
Apr. 1 at 4:05 pm:
This was very well written and inspiring. I'm glad I'm not the only one who wears a little bit of her heroes, adding more with every book I've read. Good job!
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