About our Site

Welcome to The Living Library! We are a site devoted to compiling information on the soulbonding/living character phenomenon, as well as providing a warm, friendly community for those interested in the phenomenon to learn, socialize, and grow.

Naturally, that leads us to this: just what the heck is the soulbonding/living character phenomenon?

Soulbonding/living characters occur when a person, often after establishing a strong emotional connection to a fictional character, finds that said character has "come to life" in their mind. This new entity (called a soulbond, muse, or living character), though nonphysical, is autonomous in that they are capable of speaking and acting on their own, even outside of or in opposition to the expectations of the original person (called the soulbonder or author). A soulbond essentially is or is strongly like a separate, conscious entity coinhabiting a brain with their soulbonder.

The phenomenon has been documented in popular media and in scientific studies alike. It has been experienced by writers of all walks, from newcomers to big names like Alice Walker and Phillip Pullman. Here's an excerpt from one particular study...
At first glance, the activities of an adult fiction writer might seem far removed from those of a child playing with an imaginary companion… However, when we surveyed accounts of the writing process, we were struck by the number of authors who described having personal relationships with their characters and imagined conversations with them.

For example, Francine de Plessis Gray described her characters as sleeping in her bed with her and sometimes waking her up to ask about her plans for their future. Alice Walker reported having lived for a year with her characters Celie and Shug while writing the novel The Color Purple. Walker writes, “Just as summer was ending, one or more of my characters—Celie, Shug, Albert, Sofia, or Harpo—would come for a visit. We would sit wherever I was, and talk. They were very obliging, engaging, and jolly. They were, of course, at the end of their story but were telling it to me from the beginning.” […]

In these accounts, writers describe their characters as autonomous beings who exist and act outside of their authors’ control and have minds of their own. They arrive fully formed in the mind’s eye and are resistant to change. For example, when J. K. Rowling […] was asked in a National Public Radio interview […] “I never write and say, ‘OK, now I need this sort of character.’ My characters come to me in this sort of mysterious process that no one really understands, they just pop up.” […]

Sometimes characters are described as having definite opinions about the narrative in which they live. They aregue with the author about the direction the novel is taking and their actions in it. […] Sara Paretsky described making a deal with her recurring character V. I. Warshawski. The story line in her novel Hard Time required that Warshawski go to prison where she was beaten up, tortured, and almost killed. V. I. “refused” to go along with this until the author promised to give her true love in exchange. Similarly, Philip Pullman […] described having to negotiate with a particularly proud and high strung character, Mrs. Coulter, to make her spend some time in a cave at the beginning of The Amber Spyglass.

In some accounts, the fictional characters do not limit their opinions to the world of the novel. They also provide unsolicited advice about matters concerning the author’s real life...

The phenomenon (which will be referred to simply as "soulbonding" for concision's sake) is often considered a subcategory of plurality, the term encompassing all phenomena where multiple consciousnesses share a head. While it is easy to see why it would be considered a subcategory of plurality (and indeed, the larger plurality community has absorbed many of the older soulbonding communities), soulbonding is actually a far larger spectrum than it first appears. To give a very incomplete sample of some variations in the spectrum:

- Some soulbonders see soulbonding in a psychological light, whether by considering their soulbonds aspects of their own personality or as conscious psychological entities like themselves.
- Other soulbonders see soulbonding in a spiritual light, whether by considering their soulbonds visiting spirits or people in another world they've connected to and can talk to.
- Some soulbonders come across their soulbonds as a product of writing a character of their own creation for a long time, until that character surprises them by coming alive.
- Other soulbonders develop an emotional connection to a character of someone else's creation, and one day that character simply shows up in their mind.
- Still other soulbonders deliberately set out to create a soulbond (which often overlaps to some degree with tulpamancy, the practice of deliberately creating new consciousnesses as mental companions).
- Some soulbonds come "up front" and essentially live life alongside their soulbonder in the physical world, as a constant companion. (In multiplicity circles, some soulbonds may even share control of the physical body with their soulbonders.)
- Other soulbonds rarely or never come up front, and instead speak to their soulbonder while living in their own "homeworld", as if through a mental phone.
- Some soulbonds who choose to participate in the physical world shed their old identities completely, becoming unrecognizable from their old character selves.
- Other soulbonds who choose to participate in the physical world retain their old identities and treasure them as essentially who they are.

As you can see, the term encompasses a great number of beliefs and practices, some of which fit neatly into plurality, some of which less so. Overall, it would perhaps be more accurate to say that soulbonding is a boundary category of plurality, a spectrum that overlaps much of plurality but also is its own field.

In any case, whether you and company believe your soulbonds/living characters/muses are extensions of yourself that have grown autonomous, believe they're spiritual in nature, believe they're psychologically emergent consciousnesses behaviorally patterned after fictional characters, all of the above, some of the above, or none of the above, you're welcome here as long as you abide by the rules and respect others.

Don't have soulbonds and are just here out of curiosity? Whether you're a plural system without soulbonds or a curious singlet, you're still welcome here as long as you abide by the rules and respect others. :)

If you're still hungry for more information, the following links may be of use to you:

Common Questions
Glossary

We hope you enjoy your stay!

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