Some musings about my protagonists

22 Jun

I think I might want to say a bit about the main characters in the novels I have published so far, and the one I’m rewriting right now (it was originally written as a novel which would have been too short for any of the traditional publishers, and since this was before the ebook/self-publishing revolution I chopped it down to novella length and tried a couple of magazine markets with it. Didn’t sell, and frankly, it had not been all that well shortened so no miracle. But I remember liking the original. Which I have lost. So I’m rewriting the thing now as, again, a short novel.).

Mostly all of these longer works have been born out of musings about heroes, and love interests, and sidekicks, and some of the other character… should I say stereotypes?

Laura, the hero of Fourth Sword, does become a traditional hero, although it is not easy for her and does not happen fast. She was the one born from speculating what it might really be like, for somebody relatively normal and not well prepared, to be forced into that role.

As for the other two main characters –

Well, I think Tikka from The Demons of Khemas is very much the traditional love interest. The whole story started when I thought what a Conan the Cimmerian story might look like from the point of view of the girl. Except Conan, and his ilk, of course pretty much always left the girl behind after the adventure. Good enough for a princess, I suppose, but less so for a tavern wench, especially one who has no close family or other such strong support network. The kind of worlds most of the barbarian heroes live in might be interesting for a big, strong and well trained guy as a place to be adventuring in, and somewhere between quite pleasant and tolerable for a gorgeous princess or noble born lady who could count, most times, on a large group of big, strong men willing to protect her, but could easily turn into a living hell for people who are not rich, not well endowed in the muscles department and do not have large support groups, like a big family or clan or a closely knit village or anything else like that. A lone, pretty girl would probably be toast sooner or later. Unless she found a protector, and a permanent one, not somebody who just saves her once and then beds her, possibly leaving her as a future unwed mom, before riding off into the sunset. So Tikka gets something of an actual love story with her barbarian.

And since the story is from her POV she also had to have a bit more to do than most of the normal barbarian love interests or it might have become a rather boring story in which the girl pines, maybe has a few tantrums, looks nice, is threatened, gets rescued, has sex, and waits a lot while most of the action happens to the guy (also, I do not write sex scenes. I don’t think I could write good ones, based on the unfortunate fact that I almost invariably find the ones I read boring. Visual presentations can work for me, if I like the actors and the scene is well done, or sometimes if I find the art pleasing when it’s a comic, but written just doesn’t. So I really have no idea what would be a good, well written sex scene.)

But yes, The Demons of Khemas has the love interest as the main character.

And the one I’m working on now has the sidekick.

Again, I got curious when contemplating the role of sidekicks, or other supporting characters for the hero in fiction. Why would somebody settle for being the permanent number two? What would it be like? Okay, one alternative is of course the scenario where the helper has a bad case of hero worship, and is also permanently in awe of the hero, and because of that is willing to devote his life to the hero, probably considering himself lucky because he’s the one who has managed to get so close to this wonderful being. But what if he was more normal, and ambitious? What if he also was somebody who actually could perhaps be a hero in his own right if he left and settled among more normal people? Somebody who also is actually pretty awesome himself, or at least smart and competent, but can’t really shine as long as he stays with the hero because the hero happens to be somebody truly extraordinary, somebody who can outperform almost anybody merely human? Would there actually be some rewards for being just the helper in that case?

So I got this young man who is working with a member of an advanced separate species of humans turned into superhumans, and is not exactly completely happy with the situation. And of course things will go south, and the kid gets his chance to be the hero for a little while.

I like stories with somewhat less used character types. While I was writing one of the early scenes in Fourth Sword, about Laura working as a cleaner, well, that came partly because I have sometimes played with the idea of a mystery story where the sleuth is the cleaner. What would be more natural job for an aspiring amateur sleuth to stumble on something suspicious than that? Lots of stories where the heroes look for clues while pretending to be cleaners, not so many – I may have read about one or two, but I don’t think I ever managed to locate the actual book or books, just read some mention about it, or them, somewhere – starting with a real cleaner finding something suspicious and starting to dig into it. Well, unless we are talking about crime scene cleaners, there has been at least one movie and one television series with that scenario. But yes, character types who usually are just in supporting roles, or main characters who have some less glamorous occupation than the usual ones, or maybe characters who are older or in some other ways a bit less typical – I like those stories so I also like to write them. Not to complete exclusion of the usual characters types, I also happen to be rather fond of some cliches, but also with those I do like them even more if there is some sort of twist included. 😉

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