Friday, September 25, 2015

I was reacting to complaints that hadn't yet happened.

I was reacting to complaints that hadn't yet happened.

Let me explain.

While doing the last editing pass on "Brianna and the Three," I found myself starting to change things not because I thought the story could be made better but because someone might be upset...something that should never be done.

A bit of background: the main character of the story is a woman named Brianna Pandora. She holds the rank of Archangel in the military of the mid-79th century, the Angel Corps. Those who hold the rank of Archangel are both soldiers and teachers, with each Archangel responsible for a squad of twelve Angels, from the Senior Angel down to the neophytes, who are just out of the Academy. For some assignments, the Archangels work alone, rather than bring their squads along. Each Archangel is assigned an AI, who maintains contact with the Archangel via a small portable unit usually worn on the belt, and via a neurolink, a web of circuitry implanted in the Archangel's brain and allows private communication with the AI.

While Brianna is well regarded within the ranks of the Corps, she does have some insecurities and neurosis. She tends to be very hard on herself and takes criticism very personally. She doesn't like making mistakes and often chastises herself when she acts on instinct rather than stopping and thinking.

Early in the story, after a meeting to discuss her assignment to rescue someone from kidnappers, Brianna heads out and cruises the downtown district looking for some companionship for the night. The trouble is, she can't decide what kind of companionship she's looking for. ("I was becoming discouraged. I didn't see anyone I wanted to get to know better. My own fault, really. I couldn't decide what I wanted to get me through the night. A male companion? A female companion? Both?//It was starting to look like the answer would be neither.")

At one point, Brianna dreams about her great-grandmother, Antandra Pandora, who also served in the Angel Corps. (Part of Brianna's insecurity comes from the fact that she is constantly being compared to Antandra.) During the dream, Antandra suggests that maybe Brianna should find a regular companion instead of constantly hiring companions.

Without giving away too much more of the story, I'll just say that Brianna's insecurities come back to bite her in the ass...and almost cause her death. But she overcomes them and successfully completes her assignment.

So what's the problem?

With a female protagonist, who happens to be bisexual, I found myself seriously thinking about removing any hint of insecurity and neurosis from the story so that Brianna wouldn't be perceived as weak...even though I show her as being a capable soldier, subduing seven of the kidnappers without much effort. There was the point in the dream where Antandra suggests Brianna find a companion, as if suggesting that as a woman she needs to have a companion...even though Brianna does function quite well on her own. I also found myself thinking about removing any hint of Brianna being bisexual because someone might think I was pushing a particular lifestyle...even though it plays no real part of the story, (In all honesty, all my characters are straight until they tell me otherwise.)

One of the reasons I became an indie author and started self-publishing was the freedom it gave me. I could tell my stories the way I wanted to tell my stories. My characters would be the people I wanted to talk about, with all their faults and fears.

So I stopped worrying about complaints that haven't even been made yet. If someone doesn't want to read the story because of some of her character traits, too bad for them.

Wow...I've rambled on quite a bit. Does any of this make any sense at all?

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