As I have been editing Strange I have been more and more aware of my believed inconsistencies in Ariella’s character. I want to her to be off-type for the characters that I usually create, but sometimes I feel as I write her she becomes mush or reverts back to what I am comfortable with. That bears the question – is it better to write something you are comfortable with, or something that is in-demand? When is it better to challenge yourself to write differently verses writing believably? If it doesn’t feel believable because it isn’t comfortable, does that make you a poor writer, or misguided?
I read Bloodhound by Tamora Pierce recently. I grew up on Pierce’s books and she is one of my most beloved authors. I realised, as I was reading the end of Beka’s second book, that many of Pierce’s lead characters feel similar to me. Don’t get me wrong – I like them all (Ali is my favorite, by the way). Pierce always presents a strong female lead with high morale fiber, despite her motivations. They are always smart and ambitious, cautious and courteous of those around them, and most times admittedly shy when it comes to relationships. They exist in all sorts of situations, and yet, they are very similar people. I don’t respect and love her writing any less for that fact – in fact, I love it all the more because I know I am going to love her characters regardless of their situation.
So as I think about it further, perhaps there is nothing wrong with writing what I am comfortable with – as long as it is not cliched, I will write it better. I would rather tell a better story than create a world that I cannot stand and get stuck in it.
As for Ariella, I know where her journey will take her and much like Pierce’s characters, the lives of many will rely on her high moral fiber to make the right decision for everyone, not just the easy decision for herself. And I can twist her quirks and personality any way I want, but in the end, I am proud to have a strong female lead.