Since January 6, I’ve been blogging about a new project that I’m working on called Adanna’s Beginning. I’ll be blogging my way through this project connection with Redefining Disability. You can read more about the Redefining Disability Project here, and there is a list of all posts related to a Adanna’s Beginning here.
Some of my Adanna’s Beginning posts, including this one, were written in connection with Ruth L Snyder’s Writer’s Blog Hop.
Adanna’s Beginning itself is part of a collaborative blogging project called Redefining Disability.
I’m participating in a Writer’s Blog Hop hosted by Ruth L. Snyder again this week. My post is going up early because I already have two things scheduled for Saturday. This week’s theme is “favorite character,” and I have to laugh here.
Asking me to pick a favorite character is a little bit like asking a mouse pick a favorite cheese. If we’re talking about famous characters, the list of my favorites is basically “three people from every story that’s ever meant anything to me.” If we’re talking about my own character, there’s really not a list. My “favorite” is whoever has the most potential and/or most interesting things for me to write about any given time.
At the moment, my favorite character is Nariya Caine. You met her briefly a couple of weeks ago when I posted an excerpt from a conversation that she was having with her father. If you missed that post, you can check it out here.
My original concept for Nariya was as a nine-year-old girl. I wanted her to be that age primarily because I intended for her to be a recurring character in a space-adventure series. I wanted to stay as far away from concepts that evoked Wesley Crusher as I could get.
I enjoy writing child characters, and one of my favorite things in a long-running series is to watch the young characters grow, develop, and (hopefully) mature into a new facet of the story’s overarching themes. I think child characters have a lot more to add to “adult” fiction than they’re usually givevn room for.
In this case, I also knew that if Nariya started out as a teenager in the story, that would mean she would be old enough to remember the traumatic experiences that her family went through during the war. I was hoping to avoid that and allow her to have a primarily positive, secure upbringing. (I don’t subscribe to the theory that “damage” automatically makes a character more interesting/sympathetic, and there are plenty of traumatized people in this universe already.)
Well, for all my good intentions, my plan didn’t work out. It turned out that the only way my plot would work would be if Nariya was legitimately old enough to make an important story-related decision on her own. So, I had to re-think her development and ended up with a 15-year-old instead of a nine-year-old.
In the beginning, I really struggled with her. I didn’t know what direction to take her or who she was as a person, because everything I knew about her had been changed or overshadowed by those war-related experiences I never wanted her to have in the first place. As my first draft went on, I realized that Nariya knew who she was and what she wanted out of life even if I didn’t. I decided to trust her and just write what came to me in her scenes.
Nariya’s an average, ordinary person, for the most part. She’s not super intelligent or fabulously artistic. (Neither is she dumb or untalented.) She takes martial arts, but she’s not the best in her class or age group. She can sing, but, at least right now, she doesn’t have the stage presence or the ambition to make a career out of it. She doesn’t have any special powers the way a lot of young characters in spec fic stories do.
She’s not sure what she wants to do with her life in terms of career or anything like that. At fifteen, that’s pretty normal for modern earth but unusual for characters in this setting, where “adolescence” is truncated at best and not really a defined social concept. What she does know is that she wants more for herself than the options she has in front of her.
Unfortunately, she’s struggling emotionally and, one way or another keeps managing to blow the opportunities she’s given. This brings her really down on herself because she also wants her father to see her as an asset/ally rather than the “pain in the ass obligation” she’s afraid she’s become to him.
Her father’s famous — or maybe “infamous” these days, but he was once a celebrated cultural hero — and he’s recently acquired a disability that becomes a factor in the story. Both of those things make it harder for Nariya to relate to him, so her personal struggles create a viscious cycle with her relational issues.
What I love about her is her determination to achieve something for herself even if she isn’t sure what it is. It doesn’t matter to her if she is not “the best” at something or the “only one who can do (whatever.)” She’s not afraid to fail. She knows that her value based on who she is, not her skill set. She is striving to improve herself and her situation, but she is not driven by an impossible quest to be “the best.”
Along with that, she has enough faith in herself to keep trying even when she knows that she’s not only failing to meet her goals but sabotaging herself with emotional outbursts. She’s far from perfect, but she owns her mistakes and doesn’t waste time on feeling sorry for herself or whining about her situation.
She spends most of the story that I’m working on right now screwing up, but I don’t expect that to be a long-term issue. Once she finds her footing, I see Nariya as the character who’ll always be willing to chip in and support her friends/family in whatever way she can. She believes in her father a lot more than anyone else does right now, including himself, and I think that loyalty and faith in the people she loves is going to be one of her strongest characteristics.
I have a better idea of where she’s headed now than I did when I started her story, but things are still evolving. If you’re interested, I plan to post semiregular updates on how this story is going throughout the year. Eventually, the finished product will also be on the blog as a free read.
Note: Recovery from the computer disaster is still in progress. I have some Adanna’s Beginning posts scheduled ahead. Everything else is on hold for a while.