The other day, I was watching Stuart Little with my nieces. It was the climax and Stuart was in his car, running from cats. One of them asked, “who is going to save him?” My cousin, their mom, answered, “he is going to save himself.”
It made me think about how much we expect someone else to save the day. If someone is in distress and that someone is a cute white mouse, of course someone else will save him. On a side note, white mice are not half as cute in real life – or maybe that is just me. Its something to do with the tails, just cannot stand them.
But back to someone else saving the day. For the most part, when I write a story and I do write a lot – even though only a very small fraction of it ever reaches anyone – my female lead tends to be a damsel in distress of some kind. She can be quite capable of taking care of herself, but be emotionally vulnerable, or at times, while emotionally stable and quite smart, she can be physically vulnerable. But there is always a growth period and growth can never be achieved in isolation.
The one time, the female lead was eventually physically strong and emotionally stable, it was after suffering from PTSD for the entire story. I think she is the strongest character I ever wrote, and not just because she could handle a gun like a pro, but because of how much she grew and how much she overcame. There are a few exceptions where the character has been strong from the start, like Micara, whose shorts I published here. Yet by the end of each book, my characters tend to grow and learn to overcome their issues, sometimes with help, and sometimes on their own.
Also, while I tend to not write much urban fantasy and prefer what can technically be called romance, I always make it as violent as any urban fantasy. Sometimes I make myself wonder exactly what I was thinking while writing something, when I read it later. I mean really! But then again, I do not think it is that easy to understand ourselves completely or psychology would not be so darned complicated.
For the most part though, I do like writing the girl in trouble kind of story. My guys are not perfect, and not very real either to be honest, but I like putting two characters together who might be a little broken and see them fix each other. Its just that the distress part calls out strongly from the female lead which makes me think that traditional gender roles are just too deeply ingrained in me. That reminds me of this:
I think we all enjoy the part where one character saves the other in one way or another. We become even more invested in the story when they both offer redemption to each other in some way. I think it is because it signifies hope that no matter how badly screwed up we are, there may be someone who can fix us. Or maybe someone who is just as broken as we are and we can be broken together. I am not sure. Its not something that I can sit and analyze since I do not have more than a basic knowledge of psych. It is also intriguing to see characters grow and overcome their vulnerabilities, whatever they may be. What I do know is that sometimes the most fun story is the one which has the damsel kicking distress out of the window and saving herself.