Amber Michelle (myaru) wrote,
Amber Michelle

100 Things #013: I want to write awesome girls.

For the record, Sansa made me think about this topic, but it's actually something a commenter said via PM that reminded me of this little problem of mine.

Awhile ago I took a look at my original stories and realized that a lot of my protagonists were character types I hated. While writing them I was very sympathetic and totally into it, and thought they were great characters because I could relate to them so much! (That should've been warning sign #1.) And then, of course, I would take a look at them at the end of their respective stories and miss the problem with this, because I was too invested in them. These characters were useless: they never did anything to change their lives or fix their problems if they could whine about them instead, and they only acted when circumstances or other cast members pushed them so hard they had no choice but to react. They were, in short, whiny damsels in distress with no agency whatsoever.

I hate that when I read it in books or stories written by others. I will put a book down if the main character angsts too much, never mind being completely useless. Why would I write so many characters like this? Most of the cases I was looking at were old - one was written when I was seventeen - but I can't comfort myself with that because, when looking at a more recent story, I realized I was doing the same thing, and was just slightly better at hiding it.

I would say I wrote that character type over and over again because it was in my experience. I was like that. I let things happen to me and thought I was a victim, and let depression and inertia keep me from doing anything about it until someone grabbed me by the arm and threw an opportunity in my face. I hate that kind of character because I hate that I did that to myself, and I hate that I still have to fight the urge to sit in a corner and curl up until someone fixes things for me. But unlike a real experience of that sort, in which you or I may not be able to see the situation from the outside and come up with better decisions, a novel allows us a better view of what's happening. A character like this appears to be wasting their opportunities, being stubborn, stupid, being whiny. Who wants to read about a character angsting for thirty chapters when the solution is right there, in reach? Besides, characters are supposed to do things.

Now... this happens, of course, and I myself am an example in full living color. People behave like this, and I don't want to say it's stupid or annoying to be depressed or exhibit this behavior for some other reason. I know people who are doing this right now (and wow, is it frustrating!). And realistically, you can't always just do something about yoru situation, or fix it, or suck it up and deal with it. It's fair that characters exist who will not or cannot do those things. An article on characterization might even admit that characters who do nothing are also making a valid choice. Characters change-- unless the point is that they don't. But should every character be like that? I'm thinking... probably not.

I mentioned Sansa because she's another character type that annoys me, and I think the same reasons apply to a point. Near her age I was a lot like that. It bothers me, because reality was driven home pretty harshly at around that time, and it's sad to look back at myself when I was nine and realize how naive I was about how people work. It's only natural-- I was a child. Fictional Sansa was also a child. You can't blame a child for not understanding that a lot of people are assholes under their smiling faces, but Sansa frustrated me terribly because I wished she'd figure it out.

(Now it's Catelyn that frustrates me, and for different reasons. I would so NOT do that, my god. *head in hands*)

I'd really love to write a badass. Can I write a Toph or a Lin Beifong? I know the answer is 'yes.' Write what you want to read, and all that. How is it I ended up writing what I didn't want to read? >_>
Tags: #1, challenge: 100 things, public: writing
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