Wednesday, 30 May 2012
Writer's Corner: Being Special...Or Not
Now that I've sent my MS out into the world to be critiqued by some truly awesome people, I'm turning my eye to other projects (or five) that have been bouncing around in my head for a while vying for attention.That's five YA ladies who are in need of worlds to be built for them, back stories to be created and most important of all personalities to be attributes to them.
This is where I usually get stuck. My ideas seem to always start with a single thought or concept. For example, I want to write a steampunk novel involving dragons.Everything else is created to give life to that concept, including my MC. I'm not sure how other writers do it, but I somehow always end up asking the same question: How special/ordinary does my MC have to be for her to survive in this world I've created?
Then I start with a blank slate and add layers from there. Kinda like when you play The Sims and you get a base characters and get to choose their gender/skin tone/hair color. If you haven't played Sims (You're missing out!) but imagine a store mannequin that you get to dress up however you want, give them a personality and have them come to life just the way you want.
The problem I'm facing a the moment is that with five MCs to write, I'm not only finding it difficult to make them distinguishable but I'm worried that they're starting to get too special. Or too not special depending on the circumstances. I have this gripe with super beautiful heroines and heroes at the moment so I've deliberately made my MC in Seeder's Poison ordinary looking to the point of being facially scarred. I enjoy all things fantastical so my MC in Iron Willed is psychic and throws electricity. And did I mention the steampunk dragon thing?
Despite enjoying books with strong heroines who have special powers, I'm also a great lover of the underdog. The mere human who doesn't have anything special about her except her humanity. And that's where I think I'm stuck. It's so easy to write a character and give them super special powers that can get them out of a jam. It's not so easy to write a character with no special abilities trying to survive in a paranormal world. The kind with fallen angels, vampires, werewolves etc. And yet my mind refuses to let go of this concept. So I keep imaging scenarios where her lack of powers would be advantageous and end up ripping out pages of my notebook in frustration.
In this era of super heroes and larger than life characters, do you guys think it's possible to have a powerless heroine and not feel like she has to depend on others to get her out of a jam? Because I can't seem to think of anything and I'm supposed to be the writer. Well, I can think of one way out, but I seriously cannot write romance so that's not an option. If anyone can think of any books that do this well, I am all ears!