Sunday, 11 October 2015

Nerd Church! - 5 Things Characters Do That You Shouldn't

Characters can be awesome inspirations - leading the way through the dark into the light. But they're flawed - and while we love them for it, there's some things they do which you just shouldn't.

1. He wants to kill me? How sexy!

If a dude admits that he is actually fantasising, or having serious thoughts about killing you, you get the hell away from him. No excuses. No 'Oh he's so troubled, he needs me,'  (Nancy in Oliver Twist had that attitude, and look how that turned out,) and no offering yourself up like a sacrificial virgin a la Bella Swan.

You leave him, and possibly consider a restraining order. That way your ass stays alive and you don't have to survive on blood smoothies for all of eternity. And if a dude ever physically hurts you, you up and leave. I mean it - you get out of there: go to a shelter, a friend's, a family member's, a hotel - just leave. Obviously, this also applies to gender reversal, same-sex couples, and any other relationship under the sun. If your partner is abusive, you leave. Your safety comes first guys, and unfortunately there are a lot of YA heroines (in particular,) that you really shouldn't look up to when it comes to healthy relationships.

2. I did the thing

Sometimes there is a reason why people are telling you not to do the thing. Fans of Christopher Paolini's Inheritance Cycle will know my pain; I love you, Eragon, but you were told - repeatedly - that you shouldn't do whatever it is that you just did. That is essentially four big books worth of cleaning up your sh**. The lesson here is that doing the thing is not always a good plan.

That's not to say that none of your ideas are any good - a lot of them sure as hell will be! But you need to take advice into consideration, think about the consequences, and weigh up the pros and cons. Then, if you still want to do the thing, do it - but at least you'll have thought it through and not made a decision based on poor information, heat of the moment emotion, and plain stupidity.

3. What we have here is a failure to communicate

So many characters are guilty of this that it actually hurts (Shakespeare, anyone?) Honestly, the amount of crossed-wires leading to tragic results is painful. Talk to each other. Before I bash your freaking heads in. Explain things. And do try not to keep secrets, especially if it's something that effects the person you're keeping it from.

4. I'll let someone else fix it

This is something that adults in YA novels are the most guilty of. There's a war against (delete as appropriate:) evil wizards/demons/the government/another nation? Get some teenagers to deal with it! Like dude, really?!?!

This reminds me of the original (Mighty Morphin') Power Rangers series (which I'm old enough to remember the first time round - albeit I was very, very, small at the time,) where Zordon's response to an evil alien chick trying to take over the world is to assemble a team of 'teenagers... with attitude!' It sounds about as impressive as you think it would.

Dumbledore is very much of the Zordon school of saving the world. Evil army? Deadly mission? I'll get this emotionally unstable teenage boy to do it!

5. Jumping to conclusions

This is not dissimilar to some of my other points. If you leap in willie-nillie then you're going to make mistakes (Eragon, Harry Potter, I'm lookin' at you!) Jumping to conclusions might mean you end up getting someone hurt or worse. And, if you're a book character, you jump to conclusions a lot. You don't trust people you should trust, and trust people you shouldn't, all while your poor, long-suffering, reader is screaming "No! You dipstick!!!!" You've done this, you know you have.

A lot of the jumping to conclusions in books tends to avoid trust in some capacity - and, let's face it, it's not easy sometimes to figure out who's on your side. My advice? Slow down, think things through. At the very least you're less likely to make a horrendous mistake, and that has to be a good thing.

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