Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Wanda, the sidekick who nearly stole the show

When I was told several times that my main character's sidekick was stealing the show, I decided to make her the main character of the next story.  In the first one (The Girl on the Mountain) Wanda is 13, abused and homeless, but resilient, wise, and strong-willed.  In that story she's a contrast to the older, somewhat naive main character (May Rose), who gives her a home and is inspired by her.

I like starting a new project with a character I know so well.  But almost immediately I'm confronted by the problem of maturity and change.  The new story takes place fifteen years later, and rough little Wanda has become a rough grownup. 

As an adult, Wanda can continue to be independent and outspoken.  Those traits can help as well as hinder the accomplishment of her goals in the new story.  But she can't retain the reactions of a child, or she will be neither loved nor a good main character.  I'm also wondering if her ungrammatical speech will make her less acceptable as a grown-up main character.  People do tend to associate ungrammatical speech with ignorance--not an accurate association, but true of our prejudices.

So help me out.  What do you know of "rough" main characters, especially female ones?  Main characters with poor speech?  What makes them lovable? 


  1. I'm not sure you are so much looking for a lovable character as maybe a sympathetic one. You can care about a character due to their flaws and still get the reader to cheer for them, especially when they overcome those same flaws.

    If she has poor speech, you could have another character reproach them or make fun. This will cause a reaction in your readers, because we can sympathize based on past experiences in struggling to learn ourselves. Nobody likes to be corrected like that, but everyone will have a twinge of sympathy for your character.

    The sweetness is in having your character overcome this flaw. Maybe she winds up teaching herself proper grammar and writes a best selling novel! :)

    1. @Diane - I love that!

      Young Wanda is so sure of herself that she may probably grow up to think everybody should talk like she does.

  2. I haven't yet finished the 'mountain' work, so I haven't seen where MR's journey leaves Wanda, but I'm confident that W's resilience and determination will not only take her into the mouth of TROUBLE, but all the way through to the other side! I'm wondering if she'll 'create' a new persona - maybe a professional singer/performer, maybe even with perfect speech - possibly to have this facade put at risk by someone who knows her past? Whatever happens, I've no doubt she'll eventually overcome any travails that might come her way. I'm really looking forward to this one. Best of luck with it!;-)

    1. Eamon, TROUBLE, yes. You know Wanda so well. At this early stage, the story feels dark and challenging. (MR would be horrified.)