Posted by: kimberlysullivan | March 11, 2016

Mourning the loss of your characters?

2012_June_rejection2“After I write a novel or a story, I miss the characters—I feel sort of bereaved.”

Marilynne Robinson

I love this quote from the author Marilynne Robinson, perhaps best known for her novel Gilead.

And for those of us who love writing – or reading – isn’t it too true?

Think about reading a book you really love, one you’re racing through because you are anxious to see how it ends. And when you first close the page at that breathless ‘The End’, you feel a deep sense of satisfaction. And then? Often, I feel a type of ‘bereavement’, as Robinson calls it.

It happens even more when I’m writing. After all, as a writer, you’re firmly within the heads of your own characters. You are thinking endlessly about how they should act, how they should speak, how should they feel. It can be tough to say goodbye when the ink dries on the last revision.

What do you think, writers and readers? Do you mourn the loss of your characters when you stop writing (or reading) a story you love?


  1. Totally – both reading and writing. I cried upon finishing my first novel, though I’ve not done that since with the others. The most recent book that had characters sticking with me so deeply was Hanya Yanigihara’s A LITTLE LIFE. Really, those are the best kinds of books, though, right?

    • Couldn’t agree with you more, Janet! The best books are the ones that stay with you long after you read the last page…and whose characters continue to live on in your mind. Haha … even if that makes us sound a tiny bit insane, I suppose. ☺

  2. I also do when I’m finished reading a book I’ve loved reading. I felt that way with the series The Neopolitan Novel from Elena Ferrante.

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