Raising Annie

Hah. Sounds like I have a kid, doesn’t it? Nooope. Not me. Maybe? I dunno. I’m still solidly on the fence about kids and whether or not I’ll actually have one.

I do, however, have a book in the works, and that book has a main character who is really kind of a brat.

Annie got her got. Now it's zombie killing time.
Annie. Sort of. Work in progress, but Annie.

And I don’t mean ‘brat’ in the ‘oh look how cute she is and I’m just calling her that to get the knowing titters’. No, I mean she is a straight up brat.

Never meant to write her that way.

Sure, the Annie I had in my head when I started this thing out was a Southern girl who could shoot really well, but the Annie I started out with was a girl in a short story for Tonia Brown’s Celebration Station 2013. She wasn’t even really a person just someone who did something to make a short story a short story.

And then I had to go and turn her into a book, didn’t I? Had to go and ruin the party.

Like that drunk chick who is so desperate for attention everyone ignores her instead of kicking her out.
Like that drunk chick who is so desperate for attention everyone ignores her instead of kicking her out.

I ruined everything and decided to keep the story going. Had to tell Annie’s part the whole way through. And the entire time, I told myself ‘she’s gonna be the hero, no matter what’.

So, I kept writing. Computer turned into paper and what was (I was hoping) to be a television series-esque writing venture turned into an actual book. From draft one to draft two, Annie changed from a scared kid with a dead daddy, to a not so scared kid with daddy issues. Draft three changed her from daddy issues to ambivalence about the old man to hatred of other women.

It’s ridiculously complicated; works so much better in my head than translating it onto the page. Anyway, suffice it to say, Annie doesn’t have daddy issues any more.  Through each draft, I always had her come out as the ‘shoot em up’ kind of girl. The one that knew her talent lied with a gun and wanted to go out on raids whilst she was holed up in a church. In one draft, I have her stumbling on and subsequently killing a preacher because he was doing something he shouldn’t have. Annie, of course, gets thrown into a broom closet and locked in whilst everyone older and in authority figures out of she’s a lying murdering psychopath or if she was telling the truth the entire time and killed the old man out of defense for herself and the church.

I’m actually pretty proud of that scene. If I can find it again, I might just include it in a ‘Behind the Scenes’ post or something.

Throughout the last draft of Annie (the one Shiri edited) she was never a smart ass or a brat. Not really. She got into arguments with Rochester because they didn’t understand each other. And that’s normally what people do. Kids especially, though they turn to the tried and true method of making fun of things they don’t understand rather than arguing with them.

That happens when you’re older. And discover stupid people on Facebook.

Religion or politics. Or climate change. That's all it takes.
Religion or politics. Or climate change. That’s all it takes. If you post it, they will come.

This draft, however, Annie has changed. She’s grown into a brat. Not the kind of brat My Super Sweet 16 episodes are made out of, but the kind of brat who is used to getting her own way because circumstances that have a lot to do with a zombie apocalypse made her into what she is. Annie is a killing machine. Her daddy trained her to shoot, and how to survive. She made it through two years of zombies and being cooped up in a house with two other people who wouldn’t have made it two weeks without her. She’s a brat, because she’s headstrong and knows how to get what she wants.

Is she a Mary Sue? I’m leaning toward yes, because she has been taught how to make it through the zombie apocalypse, and so far she has sans one eye.

Realisation came when another character pointed out how much of a mouth Annie really does have on her. The character was looking for respect because she is the commanding officer on the weather ship that Annie and her friends now reside in. Major Saunders and her crew risked their necks to save Annie and her friends, a little respect is deserved don’t you think?

“I’m getting there, don’t rush me.”
“Did anyone ever tell you you have a mouth on you?”
“Plenty of times. Didn’t stop me then, won’t stop me now.”
“Even if I’m the one that rescued you and as such deserving of respect?”
Annie studies the woman with her hair done up in a bun so tight the follicles probably screamed, high collared uniform, and shiny knee-high boots. Annie wants to point out that the woman is master over a floating metal cuttlefish, a bunch of brainless robots, and one robot who probably talked too much for his own good. Maybe in the military that still means something. Annie thinks better of her sarcastic reply, and nods.
“Alright,” she says, “I’m sorry. Thank you for saving us, I’ll try and be better about my mouth.”
Saunders smiles tightly and leans back in her chair, waiting for Annie to continue. Annie doesn’t, concentrating very hard on her mug, she mulls over her internal dialogue and wonders just how much she should tell the woman staring her down.

Annie thought so. At least for now.

So, what do I do with a character who borders on the Mary Sue? I can’t exactly keep her that way, can I? No one likes a perfect character. How do I raise this brat of a character into an actual person?

I break her.

I break her hard and watch her pick up the pieces.

This is gonna be fun, don’t you think?

A lot can happen on an airship, you know.




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