My only requirement of any story is that it respect its own characters to behave as the human beings their backstories, personalities, and circumstances insist they are, and to react coherently to the context in which the story places them.
In practice, that doesn’t mean a happy ending for them, or a character making a morally correct choice, or being likeable, or being treated respectfully, or even getting what they want. It doesn’t even require a character to be original, or interesting, or even anything too far removed from a basic stereotype. This requirement only asks storytellers to address issues their story raises and allow characters to react to those issues in a coherent way.
Two things brought this basic requirement home to me: reviews of the film Passengers, and watching Elf with my mother.
I have not seen Passengers, and given the spoilers I doubt I ever will. But it reminds me how frequently female characters are not given the benefit of coherent reactions and subsequent actions. Too often a story fulfills the desires of a male protagonist at the cost of any internal coherency in a female character. Why would an ambitious and adventurous woman whose choices in life led her to a career in journalism, suggesting a deep interest in experiencing and documenting human society in all its forms, accept never again being part of human history, never having another conversation with anyone other than this one guy she’s sleeping with? It’s possible to construct a character who would be okay with this scenario, but if you haven’t constructed her that way, you can’t expect an audience to accept her actions as coherent or okay.
Why would an intelligent, self-sufficient young woman who is knee-deep in the difficult realities of her life suddenly want to go on a date with a much older man wearing tights who behaves like a 7 year old? Is she tired of the real world and wants to retreat from it? A few moments of thought suggests that if she wants her life to be easier and have more innocence and magic in it, she would want a partner who can help her deal with its difficulties and rise above them, not someone who is unaware that they exist in the first place. I’m exhausted just thinking about it. But when a story needs a romantic ending for an idiot man, female characters often have to be bent to accommodate.
So… I just finished vol11 from OPM manga. Bought it the other day (it’s the latest one here) and well, I already loved this guy but this last two volumes made me fall hard for him. So, since I want to make some drawings of him, gotta practice.
You can expect some Garou too eventually.
A/N: I really, really want to finish this chapter before Christmas and I think it might almost be possible… Hugs and/or good vibes, anyone?
don’t go far, though – I think I’d burst if I did – and settle so close beside
him that our hips brush, to his evident delight. “What’s this?” he wonders
with a smile that could outshine the sun. “A tiny brave kit has deigned to sit
said kit wants a gosling for dessert,” I answer smartly, only half-teasing. “Roast
chicken washes down best with a mouthful of yellow feathers,” I explain, and
take a mock nip at the firm cap of his shoulder to punctuate it.
knew there would be gobbling-up!” he
says gleefully. “Finish your dinner, greedy thing, before you run out of room
always have room for dessert,” I assure him, “provided said dessert has yellow
feathers and a beak that never shuts,” and I tilt my head to peck his mouth.
“Now let’s get you some supper,” I tell him, picking up the second plate and
laying the full slab of venison ribs across it. “You’re looking a little lean,
laughs so hard his shoulders shake and holds up his hands before I can fit the
plate edges into them. “Where, exactly, voracious thing,” he wonders, “have I
lost this much weight?”
tip my head in contemplation. Peeta is gloriously
solid – broad and firm, not fleshy in the least – both to the eye and to the
touch, and I’m sorely tempted to snake a hand under the front of his sweater to
see whether his belly is soft or taut with muscle.
eyes trail down his legs which, if memory serves, are solid as young oaks beneath
their corduroy confines, except for – “Aha!”
I crow, pointing at his right shin. “That decoy leg of yours! You’re missing a
good three pounds of protein there, and you need to add it back somewhere. You
can’t shortchange a hungry vixen on her winter feast and not expect her to
notice,” I inform him, and deposit the plate of ribs squarely over his lap.
worry for a half-second that I’ve taken my teasing too far but Peeta is
grinning from ear to ear, though he somehow manages to impose mock-shamed eyes
over the expression. “That was my grand escape plan,” he says ruefully. “I
thought I could give you my prosthesis to nibble on every day, like Hansel in
the candy-witch’s cage, and when you finally had to take it out to the workshop
to ‘carve’ it – because I know you’d never give up on a log of metal and
plastic if you thought there was a hearty meal locked away inside –” he winks
at that – “I’d make a break for it in the woods.”
clutch a hand to my heart in mock-theatrics. “You wound me, deceitful bird,” I
chide. “And here I thought you were looking forward to a winter in the pantry
with daily vixen-nips and stolen pinches of down.”
particularly looking forward to the
vixen-nips,” he replies merrily. “I plotted my escape before I knew just how
pleasant those nips could be.”
will be no more nips for you, wicked bird,” I declare, as imperiously as I can
muster. “You’re all pretend-down and hollow legs, not worth the space in my
get over here,” he says with exasperated affection, and I’m not sure where the
ribs disappear to but suddenly I’m back in Peeta’s lap, where he takes both my hands
by the wrists and presses the palms to his chest. “This down, admittedly, is
counterfeit, as I’ve yet to sprout my own breastful,” he explains. “But this –”
he brings my hands to his head and curls them into deep fistfuls of hair – “is
rooted and entirely real, and if you nose around a bit you’ll find more
beneath my shirt and
trousers – where, I need hardly add, you will also find only one
half of one limb to be artificial.”
imagine rooting inside Peeta’s clothes for more golden hairs sprouting from
firm, warm flesh and I smile, slow and wolfishly. “Very well,” I reply, “I
shall suspend my misgivings, but only until such time as a thorough inventory of
your parts can be conducted and catalogued. And if I find you to be featherless
and skinny as a rail,” I warn, “I’m going to put you in the empty stall beside
Rye and feed you nothing but chocolate, roast chicken, and cream till you plump
into a worthy winter meal.”
lovely as that sounds,” he says huskily, leaning in to brush noses with me,
“I’m far too stocky to merit a winter of fattening up – but you’re welcome to
inventory me at your leisure just the same.”
tug his head down to nip at one blond eyebrow. “One,” I count aloud happily.