Monday, June 27, 2011

Writing About Writing, Day Two

Continuing from the last post, the second question.

2. How many characters do you have? Do you prefer males or females?

Speaking strictly of original fiction, I have...well, let's see. The novel has two leads, one male and one female, and two major supporting characters, also one male and one female (one of those is the antagonist). The upcoming serial fiction is a bit tricker; there's a main trio of characters, two male and one female, and one of those males is the audience-surrogate. There are quite a few background characters, but most of them haven't fleshed themselves out yet.

I think on some level I prefer males - the narrators of both the novel and the serial fiction are male, and while the female characters are very important to both stories, it's the male perspective in each that becomes my own. I'm not sure why this is. Possibly I have a secret fear of being accused of writing the dread Mary Sue or another equally annoying self-insert, so I shy away from writing female perspectives so that people don't think I can't tell the difference between myself and my character.

Trust me, I know the difference. My characters tend to be infinitely more interesting than I am, for one thing. Also, I have a tendency to write people who can do things that I can't do. Like dance, or swordfight, or see. (That's not to say I've never written a self-insert; show me a fanfiction writer who hasn't written at least one in their day.)

At the same time, though, it should be acknowledged that part of what makes the male characters tick is how they respond to the female characters. This is most literally true of the serial fiction, in which narrator character Tobiah is living a perfectly ordinary life until he gets swept up in the adventures of the actual focus character, the demon hunter Liadan. And Liadan, to a point, is something of a self-insert; we have a lot of the same negative characteristics, but she's a lot more badass than I am, and a lot less generally happy. Tobiah, by comparison, is borderline useless on these adventures and doesn't actually want to be there.

In my novel, the narrator is Gabe, and he is where he is precisely because of the character of Sarah - he's her protector. Unlike Tobiah, Gabe is not useless. He is a pacifist, but he can and will kick the antagonist's ass (so to speak) if he must. Ironically, it's because Gabe is Sarah's protector that the antagonist Sam takes an interest in her in the first place, so Gabe has to protect her from someone who probably would have left her alone if Gabe weren't protecting her.

I've completely wandered away from the original question, haven't I? Oh well.

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