Wednesday, January 23, 2019

The favorite character I will never write

My favorite character to write doesn't exist yet. She may never exist. Actually is very likely to never exist. Let me explain.

You know how folks who aren't writers sometimes assume that fictional protagonists are the writer in a thin disguise? Like, erotica writers must be really bendy kinky people, or romance writers must live in perpetual sugarplum happily ever afters, or horror writers must have a sort of terrifying personal dark side that edges way too close to psychopathy? If you are a writer and have experienced this deluge of assumption, you know how head-desking it can be.

No, for the seven gazillionith (but not final) time, I do not write myself. I mean, I don't, personally, for lots of reasons, not just because I'm boring and kind of a shitty human. There's also a stigma to writing blatant self-inserts. You've heard characters accused of being Mary Sues, right? (If you don't know the term, you can Google it. Even the wikipedia gives a thorough enough definition. Basically, it's an insult.)

So anyhow, when this week's SFF Seven topic came up -- my favorite character to have written -- I thought about it a lot. See, I love all my characters, but all of them were equally challenging to write, and I'm not sure I have a favorite. Finally, I asked one of the best writers I know how she would answer that question. Here is what my pre-teen such-an-amazing-storyteller child said:

"My favorite character would probably be Summer, because she's basically me in the story, but when the bullies come for her she always knows what to say. And also she kicks their asses."

No, you're right, she didn't say that last part. I made that up. She phrased it way more tastefully, something like, "Summer defuses the situation and teaches the bad guys the error of their ways" or whatever. Regardless, although the character is clearly an author surrogate, in the fictional situation, as opposed to real life, she is in control and succeeding. Being the hero. Giving herself the win and accepting the adulation and approval her real-life psyche has yearned for.

You know, like George Lucas's Luke Skywalker.

Or Clive Cussler and Stephen King who have actual characters with their names.

Or that old-school Star Trek fanfiction author's Mary Sue.

I've never tried writing myself, or characters who are almost or an idealized version of me. But I'm just like anybody else on the planet: it sure would be a cool thing to win, to read a story where I see myself achieving power or success. To single-handedly lead the rebellion and kill the villain and save the people I love.

I'll never do it, of course -- see above about my utter boringness and unsuitably for heroism -- but yeah. Kiddo is right. If I did write a surrogate, my very own private Mary Sue, she would be my favorite, too.

She would be me, succeeding.