I’ve been thinking a lot lately about love. Specifically about what makes me fall in love with a character, and what makes characters fall in love with each other. As I’ve been puzzling over this, I’ve been surprised to discover how similar the two processes are.
People who care about other people are easy to love, because the qualities that make us love each other are elicited when we are being kind and thoughtful to other people.
When one person worries about another’s well-being, they are demonstrating that they care. When one person sacrifices something for another’s happiness, they are demonstrating that they care. When one person is anxious over another’s safety or affection, they are demonstrating that they care. When a person divulges their own thoughts and feelings to another, they are demonstrating not only caring, but trust.
And when a character does these things, they let the reader in on an intimate relationship. As characters care about each other, so the reader begins to care about them.
I have to admit, Twilight is not my personal favorite novel. I’m not much into romance novels, so that’s not much of a surprise. My teenage self would absolutely have loved it, there is no doubt, but as an adult, it’s not my thing.
But when I read it, the pages flew by. I’ve heard many people puzzle over why it is so popular, but there’s no mystery there for me. Twilight is compelling because Bella loves Edward, and Edward loves Bella, and watching two people love each other (even badly; especially badly!) is compelling, and elicits love from the reader. They love, so we love.
There is no more pure connection between novel and reader than that.