Young Adult

Writing Wednesdays – Writing Strong Ladies

So I’m writing again. After a major time out with my MS, we have reconnected and I have put the axe to the grindstone. But I’m at a standstill and thought I’d blog and start a new feature called Writing Wednesdays where I talk about my writing. Or things I think about while writing. Or just whatever I want to, it’s my feature.

With it being National Women’s Day (did I get that right?) I’ve been thinking a lot about strong women. Over the weekend I went to a Women’s Conference and got ALL THE MOTIVATION and am feeling EMPOWERED and AWESOME and I CAN DO ALL THE THINGS! I’ve been thinking about mentors and goals and etc., etc., etc. To sum it up: I was surrounded by a group of strong women who totally inspired me.

Looking at what I’m writing, I have three women characters who I have grown to love very dearly. One of them, who is not the MC, has been completely developed in my head and OH MAN she is my favorite. Another one, who is also not the MC, has been sorta developed but she’s still a bit of a mystery to me. I’m trying to feel her out, just as my MC is.

But my MC… I’ve gone round and round with her.

I’ve been working on this particular MS for years. Maybe 5. I’m not quite sure. Naturally plots have changed, characters have developed in ways I didn’t see coming, relationships have evolved. It’s been like real life! I can’t expect my characters not to change. I just can’t. People change, therefore characters change.

My MC started out as someone discovering everything, entering a world she had no idea existed, and learning more about who she is and who her family is. I found there was lots of “Why is this happening?” “I don’t understand.” “How do I do this?” discussions. I’m not saying this isn’t natural. She DOESN’T know so someone has to tell her. But I sat back and looked at all of her questions and I realized she wasn’t “getting” anything herself. She was told A and B and wasn’t arriving at C. Not saying she isn’t smart… it’s my fault for using her ignorance as a way to explain the story. I mean, come on MC! If I tell you you’re mom was a wizard and wizardry is inherited, you should get that LOGICALLY you are a wizard! Rant over.

I also noticed that my MC was mainly vanilla. She just bebopped along with everything, never putting up a fight, being agreeable, etc. That… was hard to accept. For a woman whose favorite female characters include Catherine (Catherine, Called Birdy), Fire (Fire), Elisa (Girl of Fire and Thorns), Meghan Chase (Iron Fey), Viola (Chaos Walking) and other really great women – seriously I can’t keep listing my favorites, we could be here for hours – I was kinda surprised that my MC didn’t have more in common with them. They’re all STRONG characters. (Notice I didn’t say strong FEMALE characters… that’s because I realized that they are strong characters period.) They have their issues, their struggles… I’m not saying a strong women shouldn’t. There should be challenges, moments of failure, moments of growth, moments of struggling to accept that growth.

BUT WHY IS MY CHARACTER SO WEAK? Why is she just doing things without a fight? Why is she accepting things without challenging them first? How is she just skating by and supposed to save the day when she’s dull as dishwater?

Obviously she saves the day because it’s my story and I say who wins what.

It hurt my heart a bit to see her so blah, so weak in the face of adversity and so easily accepting of her circumstances. I’ve been trying to really work on that and build her a backbone. No, I don’t want her to become Tris or Katniss, but I also don’t want her to be all “Oh, but he’s the bad guy! I can’t do that! He’ll hurt everyone I love!” (seriously, I just described an entire scene for you… I wouldn’t last a day in the Arena)

I love reading a character who finds her strength. I think that’s so important to readers, to see a character who overcomes their circumstances and finds the strength needed to win the day. I TRULY love that. But yeaaaaahhh…. writing it? Not my forte. I look back at other characters I’ve written my favorite ones are those who are strong but have been hurt by some circumstance, go off the rails and need to find a way to heal and the ones that are strong but are trying to find their place somewhere.

Hopefully I can turn this MC around and make her exciting and strong. I don’t want to lose who she is, but I also don’t want her to get killed 2 minutes into the Arena.

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