When it comes to writing, it’s all about characters. The plot is second fiddle and there is nothing interesting about a plot if uninteresting characters are involved in it. Extraordinary things should have to extraordinary people, even if the extraordinary person is simply a fisherman, who is unaware that a sea curse is about to wreck his enterprise and he […]
When it comes to writing, it’s all about characters. The plot is second fiddle and there is nothing interesting about a plot if uninteresting characters are involved in it. Extraordinary things should have to extraordinary people, even if the extraordinary person is simply a fisherman, who is unaware that a sea curse is about to wreck his enterprise and he will forced to fight the forces of evil. You and I face adversity every day, but we don’t fight off 10,000 year old mummies on a monthly basis and we sure as hell don’t have aliens take us aboard their starship and take us across the universe to fight off giant monsters with laser swords. Part of the appeal of these character is routed in the basic Hero’s Journey structure that has been popular throughout most of human history. Why? It could be the desire for extraordinary things happening to us, maybe because it’s a great analogy for human growth or maybe just because normal people becoming larger than life heroes is intriguing.
So, what makes a character iconic? Well, it was a simple formula, everyone would be doing it and everything would be a New York Times Bestseller. There are ideas to make a character compelling, but that doesn’t make your character Han Solo or Darth Vader.
So, how does a character have a fighting chance of being interesting? Well, you make them relatable. How is that accomplished? You design a character you would like to see. Maybe they’re five foot tall, red headed with green eyes and starting to show signs of age at only 22. That’s a start, so what do they do? They’re a kindergarten teacher, which seems dull enough to make this a real person, few stories would need an armorer who creates mithril from dragon scales. What’s missing? Besides the omission of skin color, sexuality and it’s a flaw and that’s one of my main criticisms with writing today.
What is a flaw? Well, few people are perfect and odds are there is something that will make them relatable even more. Maybe a speech impairment, being hard of hearing in one ear, a fidget habit, copious use of alcohol or even being a nympho or satyr.
What isn’t a flaw? Being black, white, yellow, green, blue, grey or red. Also, being a woman, man, gay or trans. Yet, modern writing forcing these down our throats in an attempt to be “diverse” are really making matters worse for all and bastardizing the craft of writing in general for the sake of pushing an agenda.
When you create a character for the sake of this so called “diversity”, you’re not an ally, you’re a cunt! In an attempt to be a hero to the minority, you’re actually making a subconscious connection to a person that this 6’2, 200 pound, football player has no relatable traits and his flaw is basically the fact he is gay. I’m 99% sure, that isn’t the goal of a lot of these writers. Think of Rey in Star Wars, the only “flaw” she has is being a female, something I don’t think the writers intended, unless they’re like most of the liberal dumbshits, who are secretly racist, homophobic or misogynistic, which will usually be found out the second they’re drunk and it hits social media.
The people complaining aren’t misogynistic either, just because they do not like Rey or similar either. I mean, how many people spent the last 20 or so years bitching about Anakin Skywalker for the same reasons they hate Rey?
All writing is, is directing. You’re putting the camera, through prose, into a readers head. As such, you lead the perceptive. In this case, all writing is propaganda and true, from a certain point of view. Do you really want them to have the perspective that a character is unrelateable, because not all of us can understand being gay? Unlike the X-Men, where each “power” was unique and had the benefit of being of broad appeal, because it was analogous with coming of age and the awkward teenage years, something most people of any age, race, sex or gender could relate to.
Besides giving your character an accidental flaw, the other thing that skin color, sex, or sexuality have in common and should be omitted? They are almost always not important to the plot and slow it down it. So unless you’re writing philosophical lit, which deals with human plights, you’re not doing the reader any favors. You’re probably not going to be too sellable, either!
When I write, I notice I don’t waste time with the above, unless it is important and even then, it can be expressed in a plethora of ways, from speech to name and beyond. Why? Because no one wakes up, looks in the mirror and goes, “My god, I’m still 5’11 and white!” Even if you’re writing from the third person, god perspective, you don’t really need to mention skin color or any other minutia.
This brings me to my title, which is, I will never write a strong female character. Mostly because strong is subjective and because I just want to write excellent characters of all kinds. I think back to Speak by Laurie Halse Anderson when I was a teenager and think to myself, they didn’t want to assign this to the boys, thinking we would find the protagonist unrelatable and have trouble with it. Every boy in that class said, fuck that, we want to read it and read it we did. Not a single young man hated the book, it was beloved, with one exception, and the females in the class didn’t seem to care for it. Which is ironic, because it’s about a young girl who was raped and went through all seven stages of grief in getting her closure in bring her rapist to justice. Is this character less strong, because a bunch of nerds can’t jack off to her like they could Ellen Ripley? I don’t think so, not any more so than a Nancy Thomson vs a Freddy Kruger.
In the end, what we need is better developed characters and not wooden, cliché or agenda pushing characters, because all the iconic characters of the past didn’t become the iconoclastic role models they did because they’re flat, they were relatable and that, when I was young, was considered a positive thing. The ability to place yourself in the shoes of another individual and understand their plight for yourself, regards of race, gender or sex. The fact the country has strayed so far from that ideology, in exchange for frivolity. Maybe it is time we started seeing those who can only identify with the superficial as dangerous and it’s definitely high time we started putting our crafts ahead of our agendas again, regardless of your political affiliation.