Saturday, September 25, 2010

Protag Problems

Growing up, the stories I wrote always had male protagonists, probably because I was a bit of a tomboy. When I returned to writing for Nanowrimo last year, I again focused on a boy and his male friends; in fact, the only females I included were deceased before the story began or really manipulative, annoying, and overly obsessed with bathrooms. I would not make a very good feminist author.

But now I am finally writing a story that focuses on a female character, at least theoretically. Unfortunately, she was being completely overshadowed by her little brother (of course she has a little brother – apparently I can’t let go of writing about boys that easily). He was always supposed to be precocious, but I went overboard and he ended up shouldering most of the emotional and problem-solving load while his older sister sat back and thought about how impressed she was with him. Not a good character development strategy.

For some reason I thought that the solution to my character problem was adding another one, so I wrote in an edgy, exciting female character. Then I realized that by adding her I had made my original protag even more irrelevant... They were even the same age! I realized (or finally admitted to myself) that I needed to go back and make my original female character more exciting from the beginning, even though that would mean adding scenes, swapping dialogue, and spending a good deal of time figuring out more about her. I also decided to keep the trio but make the third character a male around the same age. It lets my protag stand out more and opens the door for a romance, which I hear YA audiences like, or something.

Cue an evening of extensive pondering and editing. I was initially reluctant, but it actually went better than expected, and I'm more content with all of my characters now. Plus, even with all the editing, I still managed to write over 1000 words of new material. More importantly, I finally sprang my characters out of prison, a process that I started many weeks ago (the last time that I worked on this story).

And so, I must end by offering my sincerest apologies to Kass/Collin, my poor character who spent weeks dangling on a window ledge waiting for me, only to undergo an unexpected gender change when I returned.

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