H is for…Happie

No, no, no not happy – Happie. Moi, write a blog post about being happy? Ha ha. How little you know me.

No, Happie is short for Happendell, my main female character in Prophecy of Innocence and I don’t mind telling you I don’t much like her.

I don’t quite know exactly what it is about her.

Perhaps it’s the fact she falls in love too readily.

Perhaps its because she wallows in too much self pity at one point and becomes whiny.

Perhaps its because she’s a daddy’s girl but then becomes kick-ass because I keep reading about female protagonists having to be less stereotypical.

Perhaps it’s just because she’s female and I’m not a massive fan generally of my own gender. (Huge dollop of psychoanalysis needed on self esteem here possibly:  I don’t rate myself highly so I don’t rate other women highly? I don’t know. Mother issues? Probably. )

Perhaps it’s because some of Happendell’s  less endearing character traits are mine? Oh most definitely.  But those of you who read my post It’s Different for Girls will know how much I just can’t get on board with female characters. Uuuurgh. The whole thing makes me cringe. In fact right now I want to write Happendell out completely, though as she is fairly central to the plot that’s not likely to happen.  I do not know what it is with me and women. I just can’t relate much.  Having to create a rounded female character without shoving her in to a stereotype has been bloody hard. I like her a bit more in Book 2 because she has more to actually do and her personality appears but I just don’t know how to fix her in Book 1. She is a fool for the main protagonist who is clearly not interested in her. Then she’s a bitch to him and gives him the cold shoulder using her manipulative female logic.  Then, then she falls head over heels in love with a charmer and can’t see him just for what he is. She sulks and pouts and though all this is quite realistic to being female, I still  hate everything about her!

Moreover I am now really struggling to think of female characters in literature I have warmed to. Really struggling.  I mean, I empathised more with Heathcliff than Cathy in Wuthering Heights. I couldn’t stand Elizabeth Bennett in Pride and Prejudice.  I can’t read romantic comedies or “Chick lit” anymore because I seriously just want to shake the main character (Shopaholic anyone? Get a grip.) I could not finish The Hunger Games because Katniss was just too, too, too oh bloody unrealistic and quite frankly irritating. Women generally are not that kick-ass in real life.  (Okay okay I know we’e into dystopian fantasy here so realism doesn’t come into it but if I can’t identify with the character then, well what good is there?) There are not Lara Crofts bouncing around the world physically destroying men and monsters.  We can’t do that. For all we can do, that we can’t. Like it or not we have evolved to nurture, to raise a family and yes that’s not all there is to us, of course not. None of us NEED a man to help us survive the daily grind of life, but our physical inferiority will always work against us. Our emotionally different needs will also set us apart. I think, in fact I KNOW women too are far more manipulative than men and this does not sit easily with me. Because been one I KNOW. I know how we think and I shudder. Women have far more power over men than they over us and we know it other than physically. Oh here  go on one of my generalisations again. Forgive me. I have a muddled mind.

Gender is one of those baffling subjects I will continue to really mess my own mind up thinking about. I just want to write a character without thinking about gender but ultimately it gets in the way.  I have read many blogs on the subject of females in fiction and for me either they are too sappy and I  want to slap them or too kick-ass and so completely unrealistic. I am a walking, talking contradiction and will still ascertain I should have been born a boy. Being female does not sit well in my head at all. Writing female characters sits even less well. I hope Happendell can find her feet.  If nothing else my own musings today will ensure I go back and attempt to make her more realistic. One things for certain, if  don’t like her I’m not convinced a reader will. And actually I need readers to empathise with her because something happens to her in Book 2 which I want readers to be on her side about. Right now I’m thinking “Serves you right.” It doesn’t at all, but I can’t have my readers thinking that about her.

As a complete aside, as always I will reveal the name origin of any characters I write about on this blog. Happendell was not originally called Happendell. She was called Twirlstar. For about 3 pages. Before I gave myself a bloody good talking to and passed a motorway service station called Happendon. the don part sounded too ‘male’ to me and also my main protagonists name ends in ‘ton’ so I didn’t want a weird rhyming thing going on every time I wrote them in a scene together.  Also Twirlstar only has two syllables… and we all know every elfling has a three syllable name.  😉





Filed under Characters, Writing

7 responses to “H is for…Happie

  1. I think it’s actually a great opportunity to develop as a writer, to create a character that is unlikable whom the audience then finds themselves caring about. And it’s even okay if some do come to care and others think “serves you right.” Either way, they’re invested, and that’s what you want. I’m thinking a bit of Jaime Lannister in A Song of Ice and Fire. The first chapter of the first book sees him do something horrible – throw a young boy out a window (after being caught inflagrante delicto with his own sister of course) but over the course of the series he becomes more sympathetic, to the point where you genuinely feel bad for him and want him to be able to redeem himself. And still others think no, he’s a sicko, he deserves everything he gets. That complexity and nuance is the difference between straight, simple archetypes, and characters that people will actually remember.

    • Ah yes, I recall the scene. (Though only in TV land!) AND I’ve only seen the first series of GOT so I have much catching up to do. Yes, I agree with what you say about how a range of responses to a character is a good thing. But in all honesty I’m just not warmed to her myself. I groan when I have to write her! But as these A-Z blog posts are having a really weird side affect of looking at my WIP in a completely different light there are many, many changes afoot. She will just be one! Thanks for reading and your excellent comment 🙂

  2. “H is for Happie” – this is an A-Z contribution I will not forget.
    Thank you for your ‘Happendell’ insights! I definitely enjoyed this blog post.

  3. Dee Lancaster

    As usual, an insightful post. I struggle with the gender issue a lot. I’ve found I can either be girly or not, but people can’t handle that i’m both. Oh, you fix cars and like sports and comics, okay. But wait! You scrapbook, read romance novels and wear high heels too? No! That can’t be. Our brains might explode from those incongruent personality traits in the same person. The space time continue might tear itself apart! And I find the same constraints being placed on my martial artist sons who also take dance class and read and play baseball. I agree with you, writing female characters is harder than writing males. Maybe because the faults we attribute to women bug me more than those we attribute to men. But I also have a harder time writing bankers than I do writing construction workers and police officers. So maybe I just don’t like characters who fuss with their hair.

    • Brilliant Dee. I completely identify. I’m just not a girly girl. My mum wasn’t and I have three brothers so I think that has a lot to do with it. Saying that my sister is much more a girl in the traditional sense of the word.
      Thanks for reading. 🙂

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