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Thursday, July 12, 2012

From Wimpy Kid to Brave

When people ask if Jenny, the main character in my UnFairy Tale series, is like me, I tell them she's the type of person I wish I could have been at her age. She's spunky and brave and independent. Meanwhile, when I was in middle school, I was shy and wimpy and sheltered. Making Jenny all the things I wasn't gives me a lot to play with in the story, and it makes me really admire her character.



In thinking about my other characters, I've realized they're also far more independent than I ever was. My current work-in-progress, for example, is a YA mystery that takes place at a boarding school. Talk about independence! I find myself drawing on my college experiences as I work on the story since that was my first taste of true independence. For the character, Amelia, being on her own is a whole new world, and while it's a little frightening, it also allows her to decide what kind of person she'd like to be.

Ultimately, whether in real life or in stories, I think that's what independence gives us: a chance to figure out who we are and who we want to be. That's something that can only truly emerge when we're on our own. I think that's why I enjoy making characters independent, so I can really get at the core of who they are.

How independent are your characters? Do you find yourself giving them more freedom than you had in your own life?


10 comments:

  1. I guess, just like our actual children, our fictional ones need the room to make their own mistakes and grow.

    I was super shy when I was young and enjoy making my characters much more bad ass than I ever was. :)

    Thanks for the post, Anna!

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    1. It's way too much fun to live vicariously through our characters, isn't it? :-)

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  2. It depend on the character, context, and character arc I have set up for the character. I think some characters are so much more fun to write when they are independent to begin with.

    The challenging ones happen to be the characters that experience growth along the way. You want the character to be inexperienced, because if it's not done just right the character may seem stupid to readers, which is not the result I was after.

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    1. Absolutely. I think giving young characters independence gives them the opportunity to branch out, but also to make mistakes.

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  3. It's either that, or they are fighting to grab that independence!

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    1. Yes! Well, I think no matter how much independence they have, they always want more. :-)

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  4. So true, Anna--LOVE that line about independence giving us all a chance to figure out who we are...

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    1. Thanks, Holly! I hadn't really thought about that until I wrote this post. :-)

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  5. My characters absolutely have more freedom than I did. But then again I don't think my childhood would make for a good novel so my characters have to interact more independently in the world. Nice blog topic-got me thinking!

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    1. I don't think my childhood would make a good novel either; the Anna-character would sit in her room reading all the time. :-)

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