Monday, August 23, 2010

A Passive Character? I'll Pass!

I talked to my agent and we're going to do another round of submissions. However, before we do the round of submissions, we're going to toughen up my main character a little bit more.

Kate (my main character in CANARY) is a bit passive during the first half of the book. The circumstances allow her to be more passive (she's trying to fit in at a new school among the elite and popular), but you don't want a weak character. This is somewhat of an oxymoron to me.

For example, take one of my favorite character, Melinda from Speak. I see Melinda as passive throughout most of the book. Yes, she made the choice to be quiet, she makes the choice to retreat inside herself and exclude herself from school, however, you root for her. You want her to speak up and do something. Why is that? Does she become less passive as the story goes on? Do the circumstances in her life allow you to view her as passive and still connect with her.

My mind is spinning on how to create a character that allows things to happen to her, but does not seem completely weak or passive.

Is your head spinning too?

How would you answer this questions? Any ideas or thoughts? Or maybe you want to argue with me and show me how Melinda is not passive throughout the first half of the book. I would love to hear from you all!


Kara Mustafa said...

I think voice is the key thing. I loved Melinda so much even though she was frustrating-- I wanted her to want to be okay! A powerful voice can make a character strong even when the circumstances force them to act passive, IMO.

Kristan said...

Hmm, Kara's got a good point. Without reading your ms, and without having read Speak, it's hard for me to say much more than that...

Perhaps another alternative is having another character the reader can root for (a "sidekick" or a best friend or a brother) that can be active enough for both of them at first, but I'm not sure that's an option in your ms?

Ms. Tale-to-tell said...

I agree with Kristan.

I also wonder if it is possible to show what the MC wants, how they think that whatever they aren't doing is helping them get to wherever they are intending to get. I mean we all have places to be in life, sometimes we make the wrong choices or we sit back, thinking that it's best. Maybe this could be shown somehow--that her sitting back is what she thinks is best...?

Jen said...

I think everyone is on to something, a strong voice will get you where you need to be. A strong voice can sound weak, it sounds silly but there has to be enough passion in that persons voice that they'll actually overcome the hurdle you set in their way!

Good Luck!!! Great post!