For the past couple of weeks, a group of half a dozen Barbour twenty-something employees invade the conference room next to my office during the lunch hour and watch old reruns of the television show, The Office. This blog post is neither an endorsement or a critique of this particular program. I've never really gotten into the series myself, but the Barbour "kids" hoot and holler and carry on all lunch hour.
What's the fascination? Don't they get enough of office life before and after lunch without immersing themselves in fictitious office relationships while they eat their Wendy's value meal? Then again, maybe the reason they are laughing so hard has to do with the fact that they are seeing us real-life Barbour employees portrayed in the shenanigans of the TV's Dunder-Mifflin Paper Company office crew.
Hum, I wonder which character I represent in their minds? I probably don't want to know.
When I stop to think about it, though, I can't very well criticize my fellow employees for their entertainment choices when I consider the kinds of books I choose to read for pleasure. My very favorite reads feature familiar settings and characters who remind me of family, friends, or folks who, in their own quirky way, irritate me to no end.
A few years ago, my mother told me of a new (ABA) book written by a gal from my hometown of Yukon, Oklahoma. According to a few of the irate homefolks, this former Okie had only thinly disquised the real-life town and residents in her novel. I ordered a copy immediately and read it in one sitting--not because it was any great work of literature, but because I was THERE. I knew these characters. Really and truly. And I laughed and laughed my way through the entire story (although I'm not sure it was meant to be a comedy).
I'm not recommending authors adopt her brutal approach to writing fiction that reflects real life, but I do think there is great value in writing a story that emotionally connects with readers. To do this, the reader must be able to relate her real-life experience to the fictional one you are creating.
In your present WIP, what one trait of your main character can you most relate to in your own experience?