So You've Discovered That You're a Fictional Character


Realizing you're a character in a work of fiction can be startling. At the moment, you probably feel like you're trapped in an elevator that's in freefall, and your mind has somehow hit the ground before the rest of your body.

So You've Discovered That You're a Fictional Character

Are you actually in an elevator? You might be in a Shyamalan movie.

What you're going through is completely natural for someone in your uniquely regrettable situation. Believe it or not there's a lighter side to be found in all the existential blackness you're feeling at the moment.

I'm finding that extremely difficult to believe.

Sure you are. We haven't even figured out what you're trapped in, yet. Look around for clues. Are a bunch of women gossiping about the latest scandal involving a "landed gentleman?" Are you having a difficult time caring about any of it? You're probably in a Jane Austen novel. Explore the area around you- are things "dreary" and "dismal?" You're in crappy poetry. It could be anything, really, just take in your surroundings a bit.

I'm in a Room That Would be Dark but for a Single Lightbulb Dangling in the Center. I'm Wearing Handcuffs and My Jaw is Sore, Like I'd Been Punched Recently

So You've Discovered That You're a Fictional Character

All-one-word on "light bulb," huh? The structure's familiar, it sounds like you're in some kind of academic Creative Writing assignment. Real quick, could you describe yourself to me, to the best of your abilities?

I'm a 6'2" Man with Pale Eyes and Radish Hair

So You've Discovered That You're a Fictional Character

Fine. Whatever.

You are in the very poorly-constructed piece of fiction of a middle-aged Creative Writing student at an Adult Night School. He most likely meant "reddish," which, as a sidebar, is just a terrible adjective on its own.

Really Awful

Right? There's no reason to be unsure in your own fiction-writing. You're the creator of the world, you know?

Sure, I Guess

Like, is it red or isn't it? Reddish and what else? Is it a dark red? Closer to strawberry blond? I mean, these are the questions I'd be asking.

So You've Discovered That You're a Fictional Character

If either your hair or eyes changes color, you might be a Mary Sue.

I Feel Like We're Straying a Bit

Sorry, I've just seen stuff like this before and it really bugs me. You're probably full of questions.

That "Radish Hair" Thing Seemed Like a Pretty Glaring Mistake; Is It Safe to Assume He Didn't Proofread This? I Feel Like There are a Lot of Typos life

It is reasonable to conclude he has not read over this, yes, but at the same time, you are a slave to the world your master created. So, if he says your hair is radish, or you dress in blue genes, then that's what you have to work with.

I Drive a 1998 Ford Tourist

So You've Discovered That You're a Fictional Character

Sure. Find a creative place to stick your keys and try to avoid potholes.

What About Plotholes?



But in all seriousness, there will likely be plenty of both. Creative Writing assignments are usually pretty boring and basic. Here, it looks like your "writer" was tasked with creating a piece that builds mystery and intrigue. Nothing says "mystery" like waking up handcuffed in a poorly lit basement. The problem is that when a student gets an assignment like this, he ignores everything that isn't directly related to mood and atmosphere. So you'll have a lot of detailed intrigue surrounding your dank basement, but absolutely no creative attention will be paid to anything else.

So You've Discovered That You're a Fictional Character

Okay, yeah. Dark. We get it.

I'm Pretty Sure I Don't Have a Name

Yeah, name's don't get A's on homework assignments about mystery. Your author isn't even trying.

Hey, Wait, I Just Said "And meanwhile the sad truth was that not everyone could be extraordinary, not everyone could be extremely cool; because whom would this leave to be ordinary?" I Mean, That Isn't Bad, Right? Maybe He's Improving

I was afraid of this. That's actually a Jonathan Franzen quote.

Get Outta Town

It's from "The Corrections," so your author is both a bad writer and a plagiarist. Not even a very interesting one at that. A middle-aged white guy who wants to be the next Franzen? Can you be any more cliche?


"It's not like anyone else has read this book!"

I Don't Know. I'm Fictional

Right. I forgot you have no understanding of literature or American history because you're basically a husk of a person. No flesh, no memories, no complexities. Even if you were capable of love, it would only mean that your creator made you so. Your free will, limited and hole-filled though it may be, is a fragile illusion.


Also you probably don't have a soul.

You Said Something About a Lighter Side ...

So You've Discovered That You're a Fictional Character

No hell!

Oh, sure. For one thing, your writer is in charge, so you can't technically be blamed for anything you do so, really, go to town.


Yeah, go nuts. If your story goes off the rails, it's him who will be blamed, not you.

I Just Drove My Tourist Into a Ravine

See? Now, where did that ravine even come from? Not your responsibility. I'm sure his rent-a-professor will have questions like "what ravine" and "how did they get out of the basement," but that's none of your concern.


Totes. Also, since I'm not talking to anyone else, I imagine you're the protagonist of this particular story.

I Do Have a Fairly Strong Jaw and a Sound Moral Center

So You've Discovered That You're a Fictional Character

Cigarettes determine whether or not you are an anti-hero.

Perfect. You're the protagonist, you're man of the house. Unless this is some piece of experimental fiction, (or if you're unfortunate to have a particularly depressed student author), you are going to win no matter what situation you're stuck in. Tell me, do you see any women around you?

There's a Plucky, Attractive Scientist With Curly Brown Hair and a Sweet Smile. Seems Pretty Unrealistic That She'd Even Exist, Let Alone Be Interested in a Guy Like Me...

Bam, she's yours.


Yeah, brother.

So You've Discovered That You're a Fictional Character

But if you are an anti-hero, she probably dies.

But We Were Just Arguing a Little While Ago, She Called Me Shallow and Shelf-Obsessed

Probably was supposed to be "self" but I guess you're an attentive carpenter now. And at any rate, it doesn't matter. Sure, you're fighting now, but that's only because a contrived series of events haven't lined up to put you two together for an extended period of time during which you'll bond and swap secrets. You'll show her your softer side and do something to redeem yourself right around the climax and she'll see there's more to you than meets the eye.

Man, I Don't Even Have to Really Do Anything

That's life as a protagonist, buddy. Enjoy it, you'll be getting a lot of it.

How Do You Mean?

Oh, that's another thing: You're clearly a rough draft.

Hey, Man, Scre-

No no no, it's a good thing. It means that there will be revisions and revisions, so no matter what happens, no matter what goes down, you'll have the chance to do the whole thing over again, only you'll do it better, tighter, and cleaner. And spelled correctly. You know how you are right now?

So You've Discovered That You're a Fictional Character

Seriously, it's grody.

Vaguely. Sometimes My Eyes Are Blue, This Guy Could Really Benefit From Just a Cursory Glance at His Own Work

Right, well however you are, you know for a fact that, in the future, you will be a better version of yourself. Guaranteed. People in real life have to work out, eat better and endure self-discipline to actually improve on any level, and it'll happen for you naturally. By next week's class, you'll be more fleshed out, more realized, and with a backstory. You'll have better one-liners, a hotter ingenue, and a car that probably isn't even a person.

Kind of Sounds Better Than Your Life

Well, the soul thing.


Okay, I think we've-

Also, Aren't You Sort of the Slave to the Way You Were Brought Up, Whether You Like It Or Not?

I don't think we-

And Hasn't Science Proved That Free Will is an Illusion?

It's slightly more complicated than-

You Don't Even Know That You Exist, You Could Just be a Brain in a Vat. Or the Construct of Some Other Creator's Imagination. You Can't Even Verify The Existence of the World in Which You Live.

So You've Discovered That You're a Fictional Character



Oh God.

And be sure to check out the lighter side of other unfortunate events.

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