Follow Friday! – Millie Ho, YA Writer and Artist #FF

Today, I strongly recommend that you follow the friendly Millie Ho. She is near my age and both a writer and an artist, so twice as talented as me! You can learn more about her writing advice and WIP at her blog, or you can check out her cute, snarky webcomic Sorrowbacon.

Talked to Dad last night. He’s 2/3 of the way through with Paradisa now. Since it took him a month to get through the first 30 pages, I never thought he’d get this far! Some of his comments during our phone call were actually fair and will be fixed. Some are fair but will be ignored. And some are like “you obviously skipped a scene, didn’t you?”

One critique I’ve gotten across the board from my betas is that my characters have too much self-doubt. When bad things happen, they don’t always keep their chins high. I agree to an extent, but I also insist on making these people behave realistically. If you were a normal person, thrust into a world of danger and mind-blowing revelations, would you just take it in stride? Or would you worry about yourself and your loved ones? Would you worry about dying? Would you worry about being good enough to fight?

Dad says “no one wants to read that. No one is happy in this book.” In my defense, my characters are not nearly as angst-ridden, self-loathing, sad, or self-destructive as some fantasy protagonists, but they certainly have a lot of fear.  I understand that reading about a character being really scared all the time is probably no fun, and that it should be fixed. But no one wants to read about impossibly confident people either. Would it make sense for characters to be “happy” when they’re facing the apocolpyse? Would it make sense for them to be okay with killing if they’ve never killed before, or be proficient in combat if they’ve never held a weapon?

Or should we see fiction as a mere form of escapism? As a way for us, as readers, to vicariously live through a person who is stronger than we are? Are we supposed to remember and love Indiana Jones for shooting a guy dead in the famous Raiders of the Lost Ark scene, and not think about how unrealistic it is for a professor of freaking archeology to nonchalantly murder a dude?

So next week, I’m going to write a post about “Expectation vs. Reality”, and the struggle to present a realistic human hero who is also confident enough to root for. It’s probably the biggest struggle I’m having with writing this book. Perhaps the companions of The Doctor will be the best mold to go by – ordinary people who make the choice to leave their mundane lives behind. It’s hard to do without a “chosen one” crutch to fall on ;)

3 thoughts on “Follow Friday! – Millie Ho, YA Writer and Artist #FF

  1. Wow, thank you for the mention, Michelle! However, I’d say you’re the more talented one. After all, you came up with the immediately engrossing ex-Navy SEAL turned chef set-up. : )

    I agree with your note on characters needing self-doubt, though readers do see the world through rose-tinted sunglasses. Have you ever watched “Neon Genesis Evangelion”? The main character, Shinji, has frequently been bashed by fans for his seemingly self-inflicted torment, though if we were to assess his psychology, past, and relationships with secondary characters, we’d find that the story necessitates this angst.

    So. I say “nay” to the detractors and “yay” to writing what you know is best. Realism in fiction is not dead.

    Looking forward to the “Expectation vs. Reality” post!

    • You deserve it! And heh, not as great as it sounds, believe me. It’s rather depressing for poor Connor, actually!

      I’m not an anime fan, but I have heard of Evangelion (my friend/beta Greg insists it’s a great anime to watch if you don’t like anime). I’ve definitely seen stories with very angsty, loner characters and I don’t go that route, but I do appreciate realistic human emotions. No one wants to see someone magically tackle all obstacles with ease. I think the main fandoms out there now – Sherlock, Supernatural, Doctor Who – really worship characters who hurt sometimes, who make mistakes and eff up sometimes, who are affected by their relationships with and appearances to others. I think realism is in right now, and perhaps my dad’s love of characters like James Bond and Indiana Jones is…a little dated. I like the Captain Jack Sparrows too, but that doesn’t make the Walter Whites and Dean Winchesters invalid.

      • There’s definitely a real divide between the Millennial generation and the Baby Boomers, and this is particularly evident in the fictional characters we embrace vs. disparage. With the influx of post-apocalyptic fiction and apocalyptic films popping up in the last five years, I’d say our generation is more pessimistic, and that may work in our favour.

        Somebody once told me that it was easier to be sad than happy, and if that means writing “real for the times” fiction, then I’m all for it!

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