Five things to bear in mind when writing Jade Harley
For fanfic and rp, as I’ve done both.
I’ve seen a lot of badly written Jade. She’s hands down my favourite character in Homestuck, so I often search out fic for her. Of the four kids, she definitely has the least amount of fic, and when she is in a fic, it’s often as an offhand mention. And then even if the fic actually focuses on her, she’s mostly not written very well. So here is a list of things that I think people forget about when they write Jade, and which might help people to write her better.
This is not an argument for any ship, but I will be mentioning pairings. And yes, I have my favourites, but I won’t be any kinder to them than the others.
1. Jade Harley is extremely self-reliant.
Hey, remember that scene with Jade and her Grandpa?
I’ve seen a number of people react to this moment with confusion. Why does Jade fight with her dead Grandpa? Was he so horrible to her that even now she hates him?
The answer is no. On the very next page Jade says that he was much easier to deal with when he was alive. What she’s doing here is displacement. Jade’s been alone since she was very young, and while Bec was there to protect her, he wasn’t able to raise her. She had to do that herself. So she started projecting onto her Grandpa. It was probably quite innocent at the beginning. She had to do something she didn’t want to do, and she told herself “If I don’t do this, Grandpa will be disappointed in me.” It became a way of motivating herself, and then turned into an elaborate roleplay, because Jade is fun and creative and enjoys doing that. But at her heart, she’s the one judging herself. She’s the one worrying about the size of her gun.
And notice, Jade is much harsher on herself than her Grandpa ever was. She holds herself to an incredibly high standard.
Jade does some amazingly brave things over the course of Homestuck. She sacrifices herself for John without a second thought. She’s not afraid of dying at all, she just wants to protect the people she loves. She’s also very kind to her friends. Look at her conversation with Rose, just before Rose goes Grimdark. She really tries to reassure Rose that Rose made the best possible choices and that she doesn’t need to feel guilty. Jade is very kind. But she never shows that kindness to herself.
When Jadesprite refuses to fight Jack, Jade explodes. Because her standards for herself are so high, she can’t bear that any version of herself is failing them.
Another thing to think about: Bec shoots people twice with her bullets. He shoots her Grandpa when she’s little, and Bec Noir shoots Dave. In both cases, Jade blames herself. And it would be really easy for her not to do that! She could blame Bec, or Tavros for the first one, or the Jack Noir part of Bec Noir for the second one. But she takes the responsibility on herself, both times. She has really, really high standards for herself.
What does this mean for writing Jade?
Well she doesn’t mind accepting help, but she hates to depend on other people. She expects herself to be competent in every situation. If you’re writing, say, hurt/comfort with Jade, and she’s sick, she’s not going to be curled up in bed, wanting to be waited upon. She’s going to be up working, ignoring the fact that she’s sick. If it’s a shippy fic (and it’s hurt/comfort, so of course it is), her partner will have to drag her to bed and probably tie her down to make her stay there, and she’ll keep insisting that she’s fine.