1. Link the Writer

    Link the Writer Flipping Out For A Good Story. Contributor

    Sep 24, 2009
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    Alabama, USA

    Creating a Realistic, yet Interesting YA Character

    Discussion in 'Character Development' started by Link the Writer, Jun 24, 2019.

    OK, long story short, Mishu Jerni (one of the characters from my fantasy) used to be basically a Toph BeiFong/Daredevil expy, as I was inspired by those characters to create her.

    Over time, though, I began to realize that maybe it'd be more realistic if I channeled her character arc of 'I Must Protect My Family' to something a bit more realistic. Initially, I had planned for her to find the 'Necri Underground' (basically a resistance movement against the oppressive religious order) and get her runes removed (the runes that are placed on them at birth by the Order that inhibits their ability to do magic.)

    But then I started to wonder, 'how realistic is it that a blind teen girl is able to just waltz into a Necri underground and get involved', especially since she lives with her family. Yes, this is a fantasy involving beast-folk and magic, but I do like to inject some realism such as 'Mishu is a blind teen in a hostile world. What could she do with what she has?'

    I did write a scene where she and her boyfriend basically broke into the archives of the Order and I had a blast doing it. I actually enjoyed writing about her again, she felt like she had agency. Then I began to wonder, 'OK, so a blind teen girl and her farm boy lover breaks into the archives of one of the most powerful organizations in the world and is soon discovered by the antagonists of the story and is captured. Is this even realistic? That'd be like if a blind teen in our world broke into some highly secured government facility. Not gonna happen.'

    I think this boils down to two different things:

    On the one hand, I like writing about a Mishu who, while not fighting entire armies like she used to do, feels like she's doing *something*. She's not just sitting around waiting for the plot to happen to her; she's actively engaging herself to the plot.

    Maybe it's just because I don't want to fall into the usual YA tropes of 'teenager outwits adults and overpowers basically everyone', so I try to keep what she does at a minimum, not doing anything that would scream 'YA PROTAGONIST'. Basically, an Arya Stark in the latter 'Game of Thrones' seasons.

    I mean, a story of survival can be just as interesting, no? So...why do I not want to do that? Do I just think Mishu isn't interesting if her arc is just 'do what momma and papa says, don't do anything that'll get me killed'?

    --> I was inspired to create Mishu by Toph BeiFong and Daredevil because I liked their personalities and drive. A part of me wants to keep her like that -- the badass YA protagonist. I feel like she has to do YA Protagonist things. When I restrict her, the story grinds to a halt.

    -> I want to give Mishu some form of agency, but not accidentally make her a typical YA protagonist like she used to be. I also don't want her to just sit around in her bedroom waiting for the plot to happen to her.
    -> I seemed to enjoy writing that scene with her and her boyfriend in the Archives until they're captured by the antagonists. She felt like she had agency, that she wanted to get shit done.

    -> And the most damning of all: do I just honestly think Mishu isn't an interesting character if she isn't breaking into super secured archives, leaping off of ledges and shanking fools? If she's just...a regular blind teen Necri trying to survive in a world going to hell all around her?
  2. Some Guy

    Some Guy Manguage Langler Supporter Contributor

    May 2, 2018
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    The kingdom of scrambled portmanteaus
    It's all ones and zeroes, mate! Try it each way and see how it feels. Then you can choose.
  3. LazyBear

    LazyBear Senior Member

    Oct 27, 2017
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    Uppsala, Sweden
    Use the other senses to make the book more immersive. A blind fighter needs good hearing and balance instead. Practice these things yourself so that you can describe it correctly.

    Let her scan infra-red light by slowly moving her arm around her face. When the skin gets colder, you have located a heat source with your arm.

    Memory + balance
    If you practice walking in the dark every night, you might be able to unlock the brain's plasticity and have your vision replaced by input from all your other senses. You can then easily pick up a dice in a completely dark room and look at it with your eyes closed. Close may become white while distant becomes black. Touching a wall recalibrates your position from 7 mm to 1 mm precision.

    Anyone that isn't deaf can listen to an echo if the original sound is loud enough. Cloth absorbs sound and becomes a disturbing blind spot. Hard surfaces reflect sound. Corners bend and refract sounds with different angles for different frequencies which creates a beautiful rainbow corona when sound comes from behind an object.
  4. cosmic lights

    cosmic lights Senior Member

    Aug 30, 2018
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    Norwich, UK
    I think what might help you ensure you characters doesn't become the cliche superhero teen is to think of a reason why your character must be the one for this specific task.

    Like a tower needs to be broken into and your character is the only one who can become invisible. Then, on top of that power add limitations and show your character has weaknesses in other areas. Maybe he's not good working with a team but in this story he must. Suddenly when given weaknesses they don't seem so super human. Also have your protag fail sometimes
  5. Matt E

    Matt E Ruler of the planet Omicron Persei 8 Supporter Contributor

    Sep 7, 2014
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    Maybe she can try to do all the cool things but fail more? Confident characters are likeable. That's more important than having them succeed at everything.
    making tracks likes this.

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