Saturday, March 8, 2014

George, Mary Sues, and Epic Fantasy

I think I've mentioned before that series are HARD WORK.  If you didn't read that post, I'm just gonna sum it up for you: whining, bitching, moaning, and a little resolve toward the end.  Or if you like that sort of thing, here's the gif:

The hardest part, though, is keeping track of all that character growth that's supposed to be happening.  As I get to the end of the third book (OMG, did I just say the END?  I did.  Check out that wordcount on the sidebar, readers!), I start to think about what the character is going through.  I have a nice peek at where they've been and where they might be headed in the next couple of books.
But mostly, I wonder to myself: What Would George Do?  That's right, when I think about character work, I always go to the definitive expert (in my humble opinion, of course).  He can take the most sniveling, backstabbing character and turn them into a hero by the 5th book.  So, what would George do?

Wellllll... let's just say he likes to make things difficult for his characters.  So, okay.  Why?  Because that's how we grow as people, right?  We grow and we change and we face hardships that melt us down and purify us and turn us into bright, shiny versions of ourselves (or horrifying nasty versions, too).

Luka is probably the best example of this, but let's look at Nikka, who is kind of the reason for this series.  Nikka is a fun character to write, but let's be honest, she can get a bit Mary Sueish.  I mean, she scores a 27 on The Mary Sue Test.  Which, you know, isn't the highest score she could get (50+), but definitely in the mildly Mary Sue range.

And what's so wrong about being a Mary Sue, you ask?  Besides the fact that she pisses off reviewers everywhere?  Nothing much.  I mean, in reality, people will give you crap about your heroine being a Mary Sue, but if she works in your story, you won't hear me complaining.  

Anyway, the reason I don't want a Mary Sue in my writing is because a lot of times, she can turn out flat, if you're not careful.  I consider it my job, as the writer of this series, to keep her from heading down that road, to make things difficult for her.  

I keep George in mind when I decide what to do with Nikka.  I push her, pull her, make her question herself, her abilities, her relationships, and even her gut.  Because even though she is obscenely powerful and full of sass, she is not infallible.  She sometimes reacts too quickly, or has too much confidence in herself and it turns out that she can't just do anything she wants with the powers she's been given.

So yeah, gonna have to keep that in mind during the editing I'll be doing very very soon.  (Hopefully.)

Happy Reading!

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