Yesterday, while working on my first science fiction novel (I really never get tired of saying that), I started to recognize one of my characters from the outside and think of her the way a literary critic might. It’s a thing that happens when you spend four years getting a lit degree — you can’t turn off the analysis, even from your own work.I think it can actually help in writing because I can start to more consciously incorporate those elements of who I want her to be into the text.
Who I want her to be is pretty badass. I was describing my thought processes to my husband as we walked Rio last night, (Quoth a passer-by: “What a beautiful dog!” I know I’m biased, people, but really, she’s insanely pretty) and I think I said something along the lines of “[the character’s] like Toph Bei Fong meets CJ Craig.” I love Sailor Boy. He kind of grinned, then said “Okay, I can see that.”
(By the way, this is not the main character I’m talking about.)
So anyway, as one can imagine, she’s heaps of fun to write.
But so are most badass female characters. Astrid is so conflicted about her abilities that I really did relish the scenes where she was like, “I do actually know what I’m capable of here, and you do too, so why are we playing this petty little game?” Just because you aren’t certain of the morality of using your powers (see also: Katsa in Graceling) doesn’t mean you aren’t completely self-assured about your ability to do so if needed.
It’s interesting to me now to look back on the three female main characters I’ve created and how different they are, but maybe it’s even early for that, because I’m not done drafting the third yet. She may change (though it is unlikely much because she isn’t entirely my creation — she’s based on an Austenian blueprint). And I do love her, too. I love Anne, therefore I love my Anne-like cognate. But badass she ain’t. Her strength is subtle and often stealth, as it must be in her life.
So I’m glad I got to sneak a badass in there somewhere. Also, I do so love the concept of mirror characters. I loved writing Phil and Astrid, and seeing the way Phil’s self-assurance and extroverted nature were things that Astrid admired (perhaps over-admired).
And in general, I do love me some badass female characters. Live for them. Was especially happy to see this one, which cleverly combines elements of Saffron *and* Joan Holloway for maximum Christina Hendricks geekery: