Thursday, May 14, 2009

Matchmaker, Matchmaker, Make Me a Match. Okay--You're a Match.

matchmaker--a reader of a novel or short story; an individual who becomes interested in one or more characters in a narrative to the point of becoming invested in their activities.

A matchmaker is on the lookout for your characters, regardless of age or gender. The matchmaker surveys likely romantic interests, possible friends, co-conspirators, colleagues. You may have your own agenda for your characters, which is not only a good thing, it is a vital thing, but the reader will also have plans as well. This, too, is not only a good thing, it is a vital thing. The reader must care, otherwise the characters you have created will seem as substantial as artificially formed breakfast cereal.

What then to do about this seeming conflict of interest? Suppose your down-the-road plans for Character A involve a comfortable hook-up with Character B, but the reader is thinking maybe Character D or E is a better candidate? Answer: nothing; let it happen because you can't stop it and because it will add the pleasure of involvement to the reader's experience with your work. Somewhere in every generation of readers, there are those who root for the eponymous protagonist of Ivanhoe to cast his romantic lot with Rebecca rather than the fair-haired Rowena. Similarly, readers will consider Anne Shirley of the Green Gables series a natural for Gilbert; other still will be rooting for her to pair up with the mischievous Royal.

However vexing it may be for the writer, readers will not only attempt to broker relationships the writer never intended, readers will also become involved with so-called Fan-Lit, in which they compose entire episodes of a work that the writer never intended, sharing these Fan-Lit tropes on blogs and in virtual editions. They are, it is to be emphasized, the product of respect, admiration and--matchmaking.

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