Tag Archives: creating characters

The Importance of Sisterly Love in Guardians of the Galaxy vol. 2

If I were to ask you to show me a movie about sisterly love, chances are Guardians of the Galaxy vol. 2 wouldn’t be it.

Not only is the relationship between Nebula and Gamora a side story, but look at how much these two characters love one another.

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And maybe right now you’re wondering, “Why is she bringing this up? What does this have to do with anything? BRING ON END GAME!”

Fair point, but I can’t get this movie out of my head, so we’re going to talk about it.


Siblings of Shared Trauma

I’ve been on the MCU train for a long time now, but the ride is getting a little repetitive. I don’t pay for a ticket to see them in theater anymore (with the exception of the major cast compilation flicks), and I don’t feel the same passion when the characters keep going through the same arcs (although some of the recent films have left me pleasantly surprised). The movies aren’t bad, they’re just getting old. Because of this, I didn’t go see GotGv.2. While I loved the first Guardians movie, I felt like it was going to be the same as the last one.

I was glad when I finally did watch, it was from the comfort of my own home. I was a sobbing mess by the end. Not only because father/son narratives resonate with me more than mother/daughter narratives, but because for the first time watching a movie, I felt something in how they portrayed siblings.

This movie finally got it. THIS was how I needed to see sisterhood and sister relationships portrayed.

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When I watch other sisterhood movies, the relationships, while tense, never felt real to me. Characters often times fight because one’s better at something than the other, or one sister is the black sheep of the family, or one was even born to save the other from cancer. The fact is, I couldn’t relate. These rivalries were either too petty or too out there.

Then I got to Gamora and Nebula’s fight in Guardians of the Galaxy. At first, I was kind of over it. Nebula’s rage felt displaced and Gamora was just done with dealing with these “temper tantrums”, and then Nebula says this –

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and it felt like someone knocked the wind out of me. This was it. This is what I’d been feeling.

I was left asking, why couldn’t I get this type of sisterly relationship sooner?

To get a little personal, my sister and I grew up during a… difficult time in our family and that’s putting it lightly. Some parental figures were abusive or neglectful, and when my sister was given a way out, she took it. I can’t blame her for this. We were kids, and kids do what they can to survive, but at the time I was crushed. And no movie ever showed that struggle I felt. Maybe I wasnt competing against my sister in hand to hand combat, but we were pitted against one another and had to survive all the same. I was angry, and sometimes I still am, and no piece of media had ever held a mirror up to my situation and said “This is what abuse does to sisters”. At least, not until Guardians vol. 2.

You never really see this in most media, or at least not main stream action films. When siblings are showed in this light in action/sci fi movies, as children who survive abuse with one resenting the other, it’s usually done with brothers.

When sisterhood is portrayed, it’s almost always in dramas or romance, but for the first time, I was seeing sisterhood in a way I could relate to. No, we didn’t survive Thanos as a father, but we experienced a lot and can’t really understand what the other went through to get where we are today. We very much were Nebula and Gamora, and our relationship still feels like this sometimes. We fight over our experiences growing up away from each other, and yeah, the resentment is still there.

Yet when I watch this movie, I see how both characters experience rage and I realize hey, maybe we’re too different to see the world the same way, but we can find some peace. Sure it’s fiction, but there’s hope that one day the anger will go away and forgiveness will come in.

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And that’s what’s so important about the sisterly love in Guardians vol. 2. It’s not the sweet stuff of tears and drama, it’s a violent rage over unprocessed shared trauma. It’s screaming and fighting because what happened to both of you was too harsh to brush off with swelling music.

The conflict between Gamora and Nebula is an important one that we need to see more of on screen and in books. It’s the story of children who grow up experiencing abuse, and how they recover from it. We need less “Why are you so much better than me?” and more “How can we go on after what happened to us? How can we go back to being sisters? How can we heal?”


Giving Credit Where Credit is Due

If you’d like more about this typ of topic, check out Lindsey Ellis’s video titled “The Complex Feels of Guardians and the Galaxy v.2“, particularly this part here. She helped me process a lot of what I was feeling and inspired this blog post. If you haven’t watched this, please do. In fact, watch any and all of her videos. Even though she talks about screenplay, she knows her stuff when it comes to story structure and character development.

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Biting the Bullet Journal

I was definitely late jumping onto the bullet journal trend.

I was never good at journaling, and even as a kid, I’d start one, give up and then go out and buy another only to have the process repeat itself.

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When I finally sat down and bought some pens, washi tape, way too many stickers and pretty paper to count, and a journal, I thought that bullet journaling would turn me into the type of person I always wanted to be. Someone who wrote down their thoughts and dreams and treasured those memories close to their heart.

Unfortunately, that’s just not me. So I decided to do something else. I was going to bullet journal for my writing life.

Since I’m a perfectionist, I definitely wanted to make sure I was doing this right, but the problem was, there wasn’t a lot of “how to’s” out there. I was going to have to come up with my own bullet journal ideas.

Here’s what I’ve got so far –

  • Flightless Themed – This journal is for nothing but building the world of my series. It has everything from my alternate Earth timeline, important terms, and species information, along with any possible plot points that could shape future novels.
  • Character Bank – I’m the most excited about this one. Because I love coming up with characters, I have this character pool to skim from whenever I need to add a new person to a novel. I’ve posted a picture up on both my Instagram, and Twitter, if you’d like to see more.
  • General Writing Journal – This one is based off of the multiple writing journals I’ve seen out there, with a little bit of a reading twist to it. I keep what books I’ve been reading, or book challenges, as well as how many words I’ve written, inspirational quotes, and general ideas for future works. Here’s a picture of my March page.

I do have one more that’s more of a daily agenda, and money journal, but I won’t bore you with that.

Are you doing any bullet journals? Share below! I’d love to see them.

7 Ways to Write an Introverted Protagonist

Thanks to a poll on Twitter, this week’s Writing Wednesday is going to be all about writing the introverted protagonist (MC).

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I’m not a psychologist, and I know the science behind this post isn’t exact. These are just my observations when it comes to writing an introverted main character. It’s not the “right” or only way, but it’s worked for me.

It’s important to first point out being introverted doesn’t always mean being shy or antisocial. While yes, some introverts have both these traits, this isn’t a be all end all way to describe them. Instead, the way I like to say they get energy from being alone vs. being around others.

Better yet, here’s what vocabulary.com had to say about introverts.

Introvert comes from Latin intro-, “inward,” and vertere, “turning.” It describes a person who tends to turn inward mentally. Introverts sometimes avoid large groups of people, feeling more energized by time alone.”

So how do you apply this to a character without making them come off as cold, distant, or friendless?

1. Master the art of internal conversation.
Because introverts are more likely to rely on personal experiences to make decisions, writers creating an introvert should learn how to write believable internal monologues. This shows the MC doesn’t voice their need for the opinions of others, but works through what they know to solve a problem. It’s easier said than done. You have to find a balance between the MC working out ideas, and talking to themselves way too much. If you need a place to start, however, look at times in your manuscript when your MC relies too heavily on the input of others, and instead let them look inward on how they’ve solved problems in the past.

2. Have other characters be understanding when your MC excuses themselves from the group.
One of my least favorite friend character trope in movies or books is the “Why don’t you get out more?” friend. This is the side character who’s only purpose is to encourage your MC to declare their feelings to the love interest, or punch their boss in the face, or something equally as outlandish to an introvert. They’re constantly trying to fix their friend, but in real life, when an introvert is friends with this type of person, it often times has a toxic effect. They’re not friends, the introvert is a project for the extrovert, instead of an equal.

Instead, have some of your side characters not see the MC as a pet, but as a human being who has different interests. This not only provides a healthy relationship between the two, but it shows the readers that your introvert is comfortable being alone and also having friends who understand them.

3. Avoid “longing looks” into crowds.
Most introverts will tell you they don’t want to be extroverts. I’ve never met an introverted person who went home and cried about how upset they were because they didn’t enjoy an overly populated outing. I’m sure they’re out there, I just haven’t found them yet. It would be better to have your MC celebrate their introversion. Show them relaxed and grateful when they get away from a situation they find draining. Maybe even have them be a little prideful about the fact that they like being alone. Hell, I know that’s how I get sometimes.

4. Write an introvert who takes charge.
Introverts can in fact be in charge, and some people even claim they’re better suited for the role than extroverts. That being said, leadership isn’t just being the boss, it’s guiding your team to success. Just because they prefer a small get together verses a huge party doesn’t mean they can’t also step up and take their coworkers, friends, and/or love interests on a wild ride to solve your novel’s crisis. Let your introvert lead, instead of being too timid to do so.

5. Learn more about the Myers Briggs introverts.
This shows the varying degrees of introverts. Some, like the INTJ are distant and often times come off as too calculating to befriend, while others like the INFP are eager to let their strong moral compass guide them in making decisions. You don’t have to base every character you have off this system, but it’s a good place to start to see the differences between introverts.

6. Show don’t tell. 
I know people have mixed opinions on this, but hear me out. If you only say “my character is an introvert”, or “they don’t like social situations”, but your character never actually acts on these things, it doesn’t make your character an introvert. Instead of saying, “She didn’t like people, but was forced to be around them everyday for work.” you could just show your audience how much she hates being surrounded by customers, or how she finds sanctuary in her home after a long busy day. That way, it’s not just talk, there’s some action there, too.

7. Show the downsides to being an introvert.
I know I started this by saying, “Don’t just make them shy or antisocial”, but the reason why this is often times the only way people write introverts is because people perceive them this way. Being uncomfortable in a crowded place, getting worn out with too much interaction, and getting stressed when they don’t get some alone time are all some downsides for your character to experience.

Here are some other negative sides to introverted characters
– They can get so caught up in their thoughts that they overthink situations and cause more problems than they originally had.
– Because it takes time for them to make friends, when they make one, they could put that friend on a pedestal, giving the side character a place to fall from.
– They’re misunderstood by others because they turn down people’s offers to hangout, which can lead to comical misunderstandings.
– Being shy, or “afraid of social judgement” as Susan Cain puts it at TED2012, but only because they never learned how to navigate in social situations, as opposed to just being afraid of people.
– Some introverts aren’t risk takers, because they judge experiences based off of past events. If they took a risk in the past, and it turned out poorly, they might be more hesitant in the future.

 

I’ll do another blog post later about my favorite introverted protagonists as part of my “Favorite Trope” series. I go over some that fall into common character archetypes and how you can use those types in your own writing. 

For now I hope this helps! If you have any tips please feel free to share them below.