characters, heroines, influences, writing


I don’t write fanfiction anymore (no time; too many original projects requiring my writing attention these days–I have FOUR stories in progress right now, three that I’m actively working on and one that’s on hold, and so, so many more just waiting for their turn), but I do still find myself imagining fanfic-type stories just for fun, stories that won’t ever get written down. I was daydreaming this morning about an Emma sequel focusing on Emma’s daughter, and I automatically pegged her as a calm, sensible type, who starts out the story quite content with doing what everyone expects of her, and then her life gets stirred up and turned inside out when romance and excitement come her way without her ever wanting them.

Then I realized, wow, do I have a penchant for writing that sort of character or what? Going through my published books, we have:

Maia Whitney: So practical and sensible I had to rewrite her character several times to keep her from being utterly boring, and is in fact frequently dismissed by her family and even some of her friends as dull.

Pauline Gray: Practical and calm, solves murders because of her strong sense of justice but does not enjoy the excitement of them at all, in fact wishes she could hide away in a library somewhere researching something dull and safe.

Riss Waldon: Falls into a space opera, is immediately determined to enjoy it because what’s the point of an adventure if you spend your whole time panicking and trying to get out of it, continues to act sensibly through the entire thing because she can’t stand irrational behavior.

Going back through my old LMM fanfics, for original characters I have:

Meggie Blythe: starts out as a practical 10yo with a touch of dreaminess, ends as a young wife and mother who is still both practical and dreamy. (I loved Meggie with all my heart, but I can admit that she didn’t really get all that much character growth throughout that series of stories, nor did she have much in the way of flaws.)

Gwen Blake: impulsive and clumsy, but definitely grows throughout her stories into someone more practical and sensible, and always more on the common sense side of personality traits than the dreamy, romantic side. Much more Elinor than Marianne, basically.

Not to mention that the non-OCs I’ve written about are Jane Stuart, Shirley Blythe, and Diana Blythe, all canonically practical and down-to-earth.

Even looking at the short stories I’ve written, they tend heavily toward “ordinary, sensible person gets sucked from a boring, everyday life into adventure and then has to be the only level-headed person when everyone around him/her is mad.”

Which has led me to wonder if I can write a madcap adventurer. But, my creativity rises up in protest, I like sensible people getting dragged against their will into adventure! I don’t want to write about people who want adventure, that’s boring!

Ah well. Maybe someday the pendulum will swing about in the other direction. For now, practical characters it is!

13 thoughts on “Defaults”

  1. One of the things I love best about your stories is the practical, sensible female protagonist dealing with insanity all around her! I have always loved Elinor and just barely tolerated Marianne. So unless the muse takes you to a crazy character, please stick with the sensible ones! :-) Although I’d probably love a nutty character if you wrote it. Also, is there somewhere I can read your fanfic? I would SOOOO love to read your LMM stories in particular!

    1. Oh, thank you! I have much more sympathy for Marianne when I remember that she is only 16 at the start of the book, but still, she is pretty near the bottom of Austen heroines for me. As for fanfic … you can find it at The one LMM series is Shirley of Avonlea, Diana of the Island, Meggie of Green Gables, Weeping May Tarry, and The Sound of the Sea. The other is with a completely different set of characters, and it consists of Season of Song and The Summer Between. Fair warning: some of the early ones are very, very obviously a writer’s early work!

      1. You’re nicer than I am – I was expected to keep all my inner 16-yr-old angst inside (well, thought I was), and have almost zero patience with Marianne unless I really work on it haha.
        And thank you for the link!! I’m going to treat myself after work today/this week. Can’t wait! :-)

        1. Oh, I absolutely refused to indulge in teenage angst when I was that age (I definitely felt I had something to prove), but I guess I feel a bit more indulgent toward teenage drama than to adult drama in general. I’m pretty sure my twenties would have been less difficult for me if I’d gotten all the angst out of my system as a teenager rather than burying it all!

  2. And there’s nothing wrong with practical characters. Frankly, I think we need more of them on the world fiction stage. Especially as the Marianne characters are *the* popular style of heroine at the moment (“I Have FALLEN IN LOVE!!! I Must Immediately Abandon My Home, Family, and Fiancé, and Follow My Heart!!!”), but ohmygosh, they’re so annoying. So, yes, please, more Maias and Paulines and Risses, and corresponding men, too.

    1. The ones that drive me nuts the most are the, “I’m in the middle of a dire situation and should have all my attention focused on How To Save The Day, but I can’t because I’m so distracted by This Guy’s hot abs and floppy hair!!!”

      I actually had to quit reading YA for a while because of that trend. Yes, teenagers are hormone driven (unless they repress it, ahem), and can make dumb choices because of all the changes going on in their brains. That doesn’t mean I have to enjoy reading about it!

  3. That’s both funny and sad – I certainly hear you on the angst of the 20s. That was the most miserable decade of my life; I was never so glad to have a birthday as I was on my 30th! In my teens I couldn’t be angsty because my family is so practical they would have annihilated me with accusations of being over-sensitive and dramatic, and I wasn’t willing to risk it. And of course now as an adult I completely see their point! Although I would certainly never say anything like that to anyone – I just run away and try to stay far away until they outgrow it, which is real useful haha. On the other hand, since I don’t have kids of my own, at least I don’t ruin anyone when I pull that trick :-)

  4. I like your sensible heroines. And if there’s anything Montgomery taught me as a writer, it’s that you can retell the same themes/characters/stories and your fans will not get tired of it. If the author enjoys it, it comes across to the returning reader.

        1. Thank you! I’ve hit a bit of a roadblock with the story, and I’m not sure if–to borrow knitting terms–I only need to rip out a few rows or if I dropped a stitch back at the beginning and need to tear it all out. I’m letting it simmer in my backbrain in hopes that the answer will come to me soon!

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