general

On characters and writing and Wheel of Time

I have the answer to a question once posed to me: "What should I do if even I don't like my own character?"

Recently reread Wheel of Time: Eye of the World. I find that rereading it gives me a better perspective on things, such as characters (also, I recalled nothing of what happened in the book other than Lan and Morraine was cool and something about three boys at an inn).

I also find myself alot more tolerant of the characters now that I have other interest requirements, which explains why I didn't find Egwene annoying (seriously, who names their child Egwene? What a terrible name for a girl) and Rand was understandable and sympathetic at times. Although more girl-shit happens to him than I have ever seen, but I suppose being the main character does that to a boy.

However, there was one character I could not stand at all. Which is sort of remarkable considering I didn't even recall her. Perhaps you can even mature in reading perferences. I can't even recall her name because looking at her name pains me. Nynaeve? Wisdom girl I call her. She is so irritatingly illogical and rude and shallow. I find myself hating her everytime she demands something could be done when it has already been explained clearly that nothing more can be done- and yet, she'll still mutter that she could have done something. To that I reply: THEN WHY DON'T YOU FUCKING DO IT, BITCH? Of course, she is too weak to do anything but too proud to admit this and still too annoying to shut her bloody mouth.

I can't understand why Morraine puts up with her. Seriously. I know she's got talent, but talent is nothing if you've got fatal character flaws. Such as being annoying enough that all your teachers would backhand you everytime you opened your pie-hole. If I was Morraine I would've dumped her in a ditch somewhere and rode off, bad cess to Lan's budding love interest.

On a side note: Lan is quite cool, as the author so obviously intends for him to be. But I find Jordan's description of him at odds with his actual behaviour. He talks alot for someone who is described as being stoic and silent (I think he talks even more than Mat at times). And for someone who is meant to be good with a sword, deadly, etc etc, I can count on one hand how many times he actually does anything on stage-other than hold his sword threateningly and set up camp.

Also, Jordan set up an interesting premise for him as the Lord of the Seven Towers, but the actual backstory is quite.. uh, boring. Surely, for someone who is sworn to vengence, you would think that the path of the Warden is not for him. Does he have no interest in seeing his kingdom restored? Perhaps there's no people left to help, but what of his pride in his heritage? Maybe he thinks being a Warden has some better hope of defeating the Dark One or something? I would have thought that Lan should be fairly mature- early thirties- and that he should have had some experience in leading men and the price of failure; such as gathering an army etc and getting his arse owned before deciding to become a Warden. Would make a little more sense to me and add a bit of character depth.


Anyway, Wisdom Girl. My brother actually had to explain her motives to me quite clearly after I ranted at him. Pride and envy rules the roost in her empty brain. She's completely green with envy over Morraine who has everything: the power she wants, the respect she doesn't have (or hasn't earnt), the Man she desires (The real reason why Morraine/Lan is not canon is because the amount of cool generated by such a relationship would unravel the Pattern itself, halt the Wheel of Time in its tracks, perhaps cause a Breaking more devastating than that whole crazy male Aes Sedai thing) only she's too proud to even see the flaw in herself when she's so critical of everyone else.

Putting this spin on it, I became less hateful of Wisdon Girl but this only happened because Rand rejoined the party and I was no longer forced to read about Morraine from the Wisdom's point of view- THANK GOD. You know, I thought writing from a character's pov was meant to give readers a chance to understand the character. I find I hate her even more once I'm inside her brain. She's so illogical and unreasonable. I do not think Jordan himself could read her side of the story and not think: WTF. Women are not that crazy (unless they are, in actual fact, bat-loco crazy) nor that immune to reason (see previous bracket).

There is absolutely no reason why she is even in the story other than because of plot hole. I can understand she chased after Egwene- who is, afterall, her apprentice- in fact, if she had rode up yelling at Morraine "WTF you think you doin', ho, stealin' my bitch like that, I oughta slap you round t'head, respect" and then proceed to ninja Egwene back home, I would be considerably more understanding towards her. But she has no relationship with the boys to be so interested in their future. How is this woman more important to the boys than their fathers or mothers? It's ridiculous. Perhaps it's pride in property? Much like a dog marking scent on territory?

And when company is separated, all she can do is complain "What about Egwene?" when in actuality the response is: "What about Egwene?" Does she not understand that in light of greater things, Egwene does not signify? If she doesn't like it, then shut the fuck up and go find Egwene herself. She can't do anything without Morraine, so she has no right to question Morraine's priorities which are pretty logical and clearly explained so Wisdom bitch really has no reason to be critical.

Actually, by reading EotW, I developed a greater respect for Janny's writing. Unlike other fantasy novels, she writes from the "bad guys"' point of view too. Alot of fantasy don't truck with this; you never really know why Sauron wants to rule Middle-Earth, that's just what evil people do. (Would the reason of Sauron being evil have been any better if we discovered he had a traumatic childhood? Perhaps Morgoth never loved him? Never went to one of his baseball games, and didn't even show up at his graduation?) But the best part of Janny's writing is that I actually UNDERSTAND why the bad guys (sic) act the way they do, their reasons are logical from their point of view and their arguments too.

One part I was really impressed by was in Fugitive Prince, where Morriel is arguing with Sethvir and Asandir over the Waystone. I was reading what Asandir said and thought: "hmm, that's true." and then I read what Morriel said in reply and thought: "hey, she's right too." And it occured to me, right there, that Janny really thought out every aspect of the factions very clearly, and mapped out their motives very logically. So what you have there in that scene, was less of a scene unfolding for plot's sake but two very real characters debating over an issue as old as time and even applicable in society today. And like us, they had no solutions and no common ground to tread on.

That is good writing.

In some ways, Wisdom girl is like Fion Areth. (Morraine is Arithon? kek) Both are proud of their abilities, and both are giving a nasty shock when they meet someone who is in every way better than they. Both are resentful, aggressive and suspicious through envy. But Fion has a cause to be every one of those things. Unlike Wisdom Girl, Arithon, Dakar, the F7 never explain anything to him, he's meant to see with his own eyes and decide for himself (this is all in keeping with the way sorcery works on Athera: one must come to enlightment on his own) but of course, ignorance keeps his fear and his suspicion strong.

Wisdom Girl, however, has had pretty much everything spoonfed to her, from Morraine's motives to her reasons for choices. She chooses not to believe motives out of suspicion (understandable). But regardless of who spoke it, does she not think for herself? Or have eyes for herself? It is as if because Morraine spoke it and she hates Morraine, everything out of her mouth must be opposed for the sake of opposing. If she listened to what Morraine said and then thought about what she knew, what she saw, then she would see that Morraine's choices are driven by logic and not some kind of hidden motive (but I ain't denying that hidden motives ain't there).

A little paranoia is fine and reasonable. Certainly I would be sus of anyone too interested in my future. But paranoia for the sake of story is just retarded.

It doesn't matter if you, as an author, as a reader, like the character or not. What is more important is for you to be able to understand the character's motives. Think logically from a detatched point of view. You, as the observer, would you be able to understand why this character says this, and why this other character opposes it? If the answer is no (or "yes, because she is a bitch"), go back to the drawing board. If you were in that same position, what would you say? If you know you wouldn't act like that, then go back to the drawing board.

A character is driven by motive in the end, if you can't understand logically why s/he would say 'I'm gonna learn your evil, selfish magic- which I hate! -just so I can beat you with it', then your motive sucks wang and go back to the drawing board.
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