October 2, 2012

Cinderella and Ivy Thorn: How my favorite characters came to be

Coming up with a character is a different experience every time. If you've been following this blog for a long time, you know that Ivy was actually born here, in blog form.

I've told this story before, but basically, Ivy was born when I realized my writing voice was boring, but the way I talk in a casual environment is a lot more fun. So I wanted to bring that out. Ivy Thorn is spunky and sarcastic and basically, she says all those things I'd normally be afraid to say myself (plus the things that just pop out of my mouth before I can stop myself). Ivy is the mouthy side of my personality, with a few tweaks.

Ivy and I are both military brats, but moving around didn't bother me as much as it bothers her. I drew on my  teenage girl-experiences to try to create her relationship with her mom (which, I know, is shameful at times). I tried to draw out all that inexplicable frustration I had at her age.

Ivy hates being told what to do. I probably drew more on my own six-year-old experiences for that. :) I was that kid that did the opposite of what I was told, just to show that I could. (Yes, I was a holy terror.)

But Ivy and I don't make the same decisions, given the same situation. She's more impulsive, where I'm more curious. I'd want to understand the ins and outs of a new situation, but Ivy is more interested in getting out of it (and/or sticking it to the guy making things difficult for her).

One thing I love about Ivy is that she learns and adjusts.If something doesn't work, she tries something else. We'll see a lot of that in book 2, where she's a lot more cautious (seeing as being forward and impulsive made things so difficult for her in book 1). But we can't change who you are. Ivy is still Ivy. She'll manage to get herself in trouble, so no worries.

Then there's Cinderella. Obviously, she came pre-made to some extent. But I made one major change. I've always hated this character for being so spineless. I mean, who just rolls over and accepts servitude? So I made sure MY Cinderella had a higher calling. She was going to be a kick-butt heroine, though just as hard-working, just as lonely, and just as clueless about what was really going on in the palace. She's still lower-middle class, she's still working herself to the bone, but she can throw knives really well.

As I wrote her character, her toughness started to bring out a new weakness--she was distant. She was judgy. And that worked well with Prince Kent's character because he wants to be tough but can't. I seriously love this atch-up because it came so unexpectedly. I mean, I always knew Cinderella would need to wind up with the prince. How could she not? But the WAY they came together was a surprise and just as fun to write as it would be to read (or so I hope).

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