In case you missed it last Friday, I’m making a book trailer for LeyLines Volume Three, and if you’d like to be a voice actor for it, auditions are open!
This page single-handedly set off one of the more brutal writer’s blocks that I’ve had in a long time. In large part, because I didn’t realize there was anything wrong with it. Originally, Mizha in the bottom panel rolled her eyes with an exasperated sigh and declared with disgust: “Boys.” After which, I could not get the scenes that came next to work. At. All. It took months of wrestling with the script to realize that the actual issue was that Mizha entered into the next section with the wrong mood. She’s not the kind to get aggressive, or blame other people for a problem. Given any opportunity, she’ll take blame onto herself, even if she’s not at fault. Part of why I was giving her a sassier, and more clichéd, reaction was because I keep fretting about Mizha not being perceived as strong. However, I was writing her according to criticism and a narrower definition of strength, not according to who Mizha is.
The thing with Mizha is that she has a lot of agency (the ability to enact change) in her inner world, but does not perceive any agency in her outer world. That’s part of her story arc. So giving her a false, more sassy perspective didn’t make her strong. It made her confrontational. Which in turn made Kali defensive in following scenes, and as a result everything kept blowing up into these big, unnecessary fights. No problems could be solved, because people were in destructive, antagonistic mind-sets. And there’s very little that’s “strong” about screaming matches that go nowhere. We did plenty of that in chapter seven already. Ultimately, Mizha’s strengths don’t lie in arguments, or in fighting, or in sarcastic comments. And that’s okay. Besides, that’s more Kali’s territory anyway.
Always stay true to who a character is. Not who you, or others, perceive they “should” be.
What character traits do you define as “strong”?