Alex Callahan

Perfect mix of magic and mayhem

Category: Writing Process Page 1 of 5

Female protagonist that saves herself

Major Samantha Carter and Buffy were an integral part of my growing up. And yes, I realize that I just dated myself pretty bad. Shut up. That’s not the point. Strong female characters who are allowed to be vulnerable without it costing them their strenght is the point.

The problem is, after Sam Carter and Buffy, my expectations, when it came to the female characters in my media, were somewhat high. And more often than not that amazing woman needs to be saved from a monster, a magic curse or a serial killer. TV shows and movies more so than books, American media more so than European ones.

When Tess Gerritsen’s crime novel series was adapted into the TV show Rizzoli & Isles, a book series I adore with the power of a thousand suns, I was terrified watching the pilot, when Jane Rizzoli was tied up in a van, in danger of being killed. I wasn’t afraid that she would die (she was, after all, a title character). I was scared that they would have her male partner save her.

He didn’t. She saved herself.

It’s my greatest fear and a thing I hate the most in stories.

A female character who is established is tough and a fighter, who needs a man to save her, solve the mystery, fix the problems.

Ugh, no.

It’s the reason why I told myself that any story I ever write will never have a female protagonist be a passive participant. She might need guidance or help (because sometimes there’s stenght in numbers), but she will not be a helpless damsel losing her agenda because there’s a strong man there intent of saving her.

It does mean that sometimes I have to work around some plot problems and get creative when it comes to solutions. Sometimes Istruggle and it takes longer than it would otherwise. But it’s worth it and you better believe I will continue to do this, because ultimately, I think it’s important. And it might be important to others as well.

Writing a Sequel

I’m preparing to write a sequel to my NaNo story. It’s a second sequel I’ve committed myself to and let me tell you, sequels are the worst.

Okay, I’m not being fair, they’re not the worst. But the process of writing a sequel is a little more complicated for me. Every time I’m writing The First Book, all I have to focus on is writing the best book I possibly can. And sure, I need to remember about foreshadowing and drop hints for the greater plot, but that can be fixed in editing. Prep for The First Book is less involved, because yes, you’re building the world and the characters, but it will get polished and truly fleshed out during writing. Sometimes during writing, my concept of something will change completely, and that’s okay. There’s almost no pressure beyond FINISH THE THING…

With writing a sequel, there’s already established characterization, past events that need to be addressed, further character development that needs to be progressed, rules for magic and supernatural, already established, that I need to follow.

In a way, writing a sequel is not unlike writing fanfiction. There’s source material I have to follow. And while at the moment, I can still go back and change things in Book 1, if I really (REALLY) want to, I try not to develop this habit. Because, hopefully, there will be a time when Book 1 will be published and going back will not be an option… And if I’m taking that option away from myself, it means I’m adding even more things I need to keep track of while writing Book 2.

Not to mention the curse of all sequels (in TV known as the sophomore slump), where the follow-up is not as good as the original. But no pressure…

So yeah. Sequels are the worst. And I’m writing this one as a distraction AND my Nano project. ‘Cause who needs sanity, right?

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