How to Commit Identity Theft without Breaking the Law

Alachia GoodReads

Alachia GoodReads (Photo credit: alachia)I don’t usually do “how to” blog posts … but thought this was a worthy topic.

 

I don’t usually do “how to” blog posts … but thought this was a worthy topic.

It’s simple really. I do it all the time … this identity theft thing … but never thought much about it.

Have you ever considered it? That’s a rhetorical question, so please don’t answer out loud.

I will attempt to share my steps with you as an experiment to determine if it’s really as simple as I think it is.

Step 1 – Go to the bookstore or library
Step 2 – Select a book
Step 3 – Purchase or check out selected book
Step 4 – Go home
Step 5 – Get comfortable
Step 6 – Start reading
Step 7 – Lose yourself in the story

When you lose yourself in a story you are “experience taking”. You put on the life of the protagonist or main character. You get to feel what they feel; see what they see; and live through what they live through. For a brief moment in time you are that person.

As a reader, I love that moment when I’m whisked away to another time and place. I get to be someone else without the risk of committing a crime.

As a writer, it’s my dream that someone would connect so deeply with my characters. It’s my desire to create worlds that people will want to inhabit; stories where people never want them to end. That’s my writer’s utopia.

Sorry if you feel misled by the title but this really is the only way I know to steal someone’s identity. Writers actually would encourage you to do so … so I guess it’s not theft at all.

I was listening to a podcast called The Psych Files when this came to me. The title of the episode (#190) was Why Do You Get So Absorbed in that Book (or Movie)?

The host, Michael Britt, talked about a study that was done to determine what causes us to be engrossed in stories we read and watch. The first half of the podcast was most interesting to me but the second half he unpacks the study (a little too technical for me).

He explained the idea of “experience taking” and how being caught up in someone else’s story allows us to test our social identities or try things we wouldn’t otherwise try.

It was very reassuring. It validated one of the reasons #whyiwrite (check out other writers’ reasons for writing on twitter). Also, it reinforced one of the reasons I read: escapism. I love putting on someone else’s life.

Along with this podcast prompting, blogger buddy, Jordana East posted some thoughts on book selection … Which lead me to think about how I choose titles and make decisions about what to read, whether or not I should ditch books mid-read. Be sure to check out her “won’t read” list. 

How do I select an identity to assume (a book to read)?

  • I tend to gravitate towards books written by women. I don’t know why. In recent years I’ve been broadening my scope to include male authors. I guess I used to think that I couldn’t relate to things a man would write. Thankfully I’ve matured.
  • Likewise I tend to choose books with female protagonists. Probably for the same reason as above.
  • My #bookconfession (again check out this hashtag on twitter) is that I worry about cost per page. It started out when I was poorer in life, when I worked full time in my early 20s but survived by eating a lot of Raman noodles while barely making rent. It seemed to matter more how I spent my entertainment dollars. But I am still grappling this thought process and as a writer I am mortified that this exists within me. My budget is bigger now and I love hardcover books so I want to pay what a writer is worth. Surprisingly when it comes to buying books for the dudes this never enters my mind. Anyway … I am working on it.
  • I typically enjoy books with a “meet cute” element. One of my favorite “experience taking” moments. So you are likely to see romance or chick lit titles on my Goodreads page.
  • I like books that appeal to young readers. So I ask the young people in my life what they are reading and get to see them be excited about immersing themselves in a good book. Which is also why I probably like and write YA fiction.

I am sure there are other ~isms that lead to the identities will take on.

Anyway, a long post to ultimately say:

Goodreads Avatar

Goodreads Avatar (Photo credit: minifig)

GETTING CAUGHT UP IN A GOOD STORY IS LIKE COMMITTING IDENTITY THEFT.

This has been a public service announcement for literacy … read more … it could keep you out of jail … unless you choose a book on the topic.

What stories are on your list? What identities will you try on this week? Who are your favorite authors when it comes to creating great lives to steal? 

Images from Zemanta care of WordPress.

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Comments

  1. Presently reading Dianne Gray’s ‘Wolf Pear’ and admiring her portrayal of a flawed, unattractive female protagonist with redeeming qualities. I struggle to portray main characters that aren’t squeaky clean – must try harder.

  2. Thanks for the shout out! I never thought of reading as identity theft before. Cool comparison!

  3. Absolutely! When you laugh or cry, when you feel frustrated, annoyed, hurt or betrayed, loved or in love; you know you’ve succeeded in taking the identity of the character. Great blog post!

    • Thanks Hannah! When a book can make me laugh out loud I know it’s good. Unfortunately, it doesn’t take much to move me to tears. What literary character have you most connected with?

      • If a book is written well it could be just about anyone. Man or woman, child, someone old, someone rich or poor, different culture, race, background etc. I’m trying to remember what book I was reading when I was so shocked at what happened I screamed out! (luckily I was at home!) I think it was ‘Room’ by Emma Donoghue, but I had similar reactions reading ‘Before I go to Sleep’ by S.J.Watson and the end of Tess of the D’urbervilles. 🙂

      • Room and Before I Go to Sleep are both on my list to read. A Time to Kill by John Grisham made me cry. I had to set it aside. Then Terry McMillan made me laugh out loud. I’ll have to think of others.

      • I just remembered the book that made me scream (and then cry) – ‘My Sister’s Keeper’ by Jodi Picoult. If anyone reads that and doesn’t cry; they don’t have a heart.

      • I’ll have to add it to my to read list. Thanks Hannah.

  4. Phil Hanson says:

    Love escaping reality by moving into a new persona. Right on.

  5. I love trying on identities!!!! Yeah, that’s probably one of my most favorite things about writing. It’s escapism on a whole different level.

    I’ve always had the wanderlust bug, but since I started writing books I can go wherever I want to go and stay as long as I want. And, lives I’ve always imagined…like being a lounge singer in WWII? I can check that one off my list. : )

    • Yeah Britt … Escaping into my own stories as a writer is good so long as it’s just happening in my head. The minute I have to make it come alive for a reader is when it transitions from escapism to work. But still … I love it. I can’t wait to hear how your third book is shaping up. Women’s baseball. 🙂 Happy writing!

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