Monday, March 8, 2010

Blog Chain: The Chosen One

chosen one Pictures, Images and Photos

First off, let me apologize about the obscene rate to which I have been posting. I'm scrambling to polish off my 2nd book, refinish a foreclosure that I just bought, and piece together a new king-sized quilt.

Because I'm crazy?

We already covered that.

But in addition, my agent has launched my book out into scary submission land so I overdid it a bit when he suggested I find things to keep myself busy. Hee.

So back to the blog chain!

This chain was started by the talented Eric, who asked:

Do you create characters that are larger-than-life or are your characters more like the average Joe?

Can I be honest for a moment? I am so OVER "The Chosen One" already.

I know! I know! I can hear you gasping from here. "Aren't you a Buffy fan?" you ask.

The biggest there is. Just downloaded my Buffy theme song ring tone for my new phone last weekend. But that's my point. I think the whole "Chosen One" thing has been done. And it's been done to DEATH.

Think about it. We've had:
1. Buffy Summers
2. Harry Potter
3. Luke Skywalker
4. Bella Swan (only listing her because Edward couldn't read her mind, making her unique)
5. Anita Blake
6. Sookie Stackhouse
7. etc. etc. etc.

Everyone of these characters had a special/unique ability, without which, the worlds in which they lived in would have been in deep $&#@.

And I'm not absolved from the trend. In my first book, my MC is a 17 year-old girl who harbors the spirit of a 15th century samurai. Obviously, that doesn't happen to everyone - because if it did then our world would look like a scene out of Kung Fu Hustle which would be:
A. Awesome
B. Awful because I would be too busy kicking ass and taking names to write.

(Hey, a girl can dream) ;)

Anyway, it just seems to me that every book I've picked up lately has another "Chosen One" MC. And there's nothing wrong with that as long as the spin is:
A. Fresh
B. Appealing to the reader

Because how awful would the Hunger Games have been if Katniss Everdeen was just an average girl. She would have been killed in the first 20 pages, and there you go, end of story.

But I wanted to do something different.

So, in my current book, there is nothing unique about my MC except for the fact that she was in the wrong place at the wrong time. And let me just tell you - Wow! Has it been a challenge to write. But that's okay. I wanted a character that young girls could relate too. One that they could read and think, "Hey, that could be me" and "I'd totally do that". And again, I know I've touched on this before, but my MCs don't drink or do drugs. Only because, as a mother, setting a good example is important to me. That's not to say that my characters aren't around such things because, get real, it's high school.

And let me just say that I'd never condemn a book that did, because geez, have you read Courtney Summer's SOME GIRLS ARE? AMAZING!!! I don't think you could get a more real glimpse into the real life world of teens unless you went all 21 Jump Street.

...mmmm...Johny Depp...

But I digress. In short, to answer Eric's question:
Do you create characters that are larger-than-life or are your characters more like the average Joe?

My answer is, both!

So how about you? Do have the next great spin on, "The Chosen One"? Or do you prefer to keep it real?

Check out the stellar Shaun, who answered this question yesterday (and is already planning his book release - squee!) and the lovely Rebecca, who will answer tomorrow.


  1. Okay, I have both. My earlier novels have an "average" person in the wrong place at the wrong time. Then they have to step up to the plate...or not. :)

    My most recent novel has a girl with a unique ability, but she still has to use her head and her own "character" to solve the problem.

    In my "new idea," the character is quite ordinary. But she surrounded by the extraordinary. Hopefully, that will be appealing. We'll see, LOL!

    Great post! :)

  2. I'm all about average characters with a larger-than-life twist.

    And I think I may have found one person who is busier than me. YOU!

  3. Ha! Awesome post :D And funny, because in my last book, my character was sort of a chosen one type character, but in my current book (if I ever get it started, that is) my MC is an average girl who gets chosen...oooo hmmm hehe. Well, the supernatural character chooses her for his diabolical plan, but she's not "THE CHOSEN ONE," if that makes any sense LOL

  4. Okay, understand that I mean this in the awesome-est way, but I was muffling laughter here at work big time throughout this whole post. You are so hilarious.

    I completely agree with you about the whole chosen one syndrome. I really hate when writers choose that route - particularly when it's done really poorly.

    I would so be right beside you kicking butt and taking names, Kung Fu Hustle style.

    And oh wow, I'm actually reading The Hunger Games right now. It's not my usual choice of genre, but I have to say I am really enjoying it. I'm usually not a fan of first person writing either (it took so much to read through the Twilight books), but this one is worthwhile.

    Nice post, Cole.

  5. Great post, Cole! I've said this to be before, but with both kinds of characters--chosen or otherwise--you are really good at crafting ones who girls I would've wanted to be as a teenager.

  6. I was with you up until you mentioned 21 Jump Street and said..."Mmmmm Johnny Depp."

    That's the last thing I remember.

    Johnny does that to me. :-)

  7. Ooooh, nice topic, Cole! (And hi, by the way.)

    Speaking personally, I find that avoiding The Chosen One is easy as long as I'm writing a contemporary YA. But I'm also trying my hand at fantasy at the moment, and there the tendency to give my MC a little nudge is hard to resist. You know . . . an implausible skill here, an extraordinary piece of knowledge there.

    But for me the bigger issue right now is making sure that anything unusual that I "give" my characters is organic and properly set up, so that it doesn't become a crutch. KATANA is an excellent example of what I mean, where your MC hasn't made it out of chapter 1 before her skills have resurfaced, even if she doesn't understand them yet.

    Anyway, I'm rambling because the coffee wore off three hours ago, so I'll stop now!

  8. My last novel and my current WIP both have MCs who are basically average teens, but they do each have one unique characteristic that's integral to the plot. Not a huge thing like being The Chosen One Without Whom The World Will Crash And Burn, but still, no story without that particular character.

    Interesting post! Thanks. :)

  9. lbdiamond - love your new idea! Can't wait to see how it plays out.

    Bethany - Right!?! I'm making myself crazy to keep from going crazy. It's working! lol

    Michelle - Awesome twist! I get to read it, right???

    Eric - nice to know I'd have a partner in my butt-kicking endeavors :D

    Sarah - Aw! *blushes*

    Kat - LOL!

    Antony - Hi!!!Thanks for the kind words :) I just bought your book, BUSTED, from a little indie shop in St. Charles. The shop keeper raved about you. I can't wait to read it!!!

    Shari - writing the average teen story is no easy challenge as I'm discovering. Kudos to you!!!

  10. I noticed all of your "Chosen Ones" are from SF/Fantasy, probably because you have to have a speculative element to give characters the abilities they display. I liked that you had examples of female "Chosen Ones," since it seems that most of the classic larger-than-life characters are male.

  11. Well, hmm. I've got one book that has a Chose One, lol. She's a very reluctant sort of hero tho cuz she thinks she's a villain, when she's really a superhero (it's not a superhero book, it's just easier to explain it like that for the purpose of this post, lol.)

    But my other books have normal Joe's who end up doing extraordinary things - not because THEY are extraordinary but because life demands it. And you're right, they're harder to write! Oy!

    I love the idea of your samurai in a girl, ha! Can't wait to read it! Good luck with the subs!

  12. I'm boycotting Chosen One stories as well.

    That's a lie, of course. Someone will whip out another Super Special Person story, and they'll do it well, and I'll find myself thinking, "Why aren't we seeing more of this?"

    I think we're hardwired to crave "only Char X can save the world" stories, and the programming is complete before we're old enough to read.

    A lot of us had parents or grandparents who told us about this guy from Nazareth...

    Pretty much the ultimate Chosen One story.

    My primary protags seem to be Chosen Ones in mini-form. They have abilities shaped by their upbringing or environment, and those talents help them overcome the story's major conflict.

    Sam can't bend steel or walk through walls. But she can handle rope and climb, and create fake antiques like nobody's business. And that suits the story just fine.

    Thanks for another awesome post!

  13. Haha, I loved Kung Fu Hustle!

    But seriously, great answers to this question :). Loved this post!

  14. Lol, I loved this post. I love to try and make my people as ordinary as possible. It makes it so much harder for them to survive! But that's where the fun is, right?

  15. For me, it's somewhere in between. I like characters who are larger-than-life yet human at the same time. Okay, I sound confusing.

    Basically, I like characters who have unique abilities but have flaws. It's fun to watch someone with so much power struggle through obstacles.

  16. I am also a HUGE Buffy fan, but yeah the "chosen one" thing can get really old. I like that as a writer you've come at this from both sides - of having both written that "chosen" character and of trying to write someone who is more typical teenager. Great post!

  17. Sandra - so funny that you caught that because I sure didn't. We can't leave saving the earth to just the men!!

    Ali - a hero who thinks she's a villian?!? I have one word for you: AWESOME

    Joe - a girl who can create fake antiques?!? Seriously mad at you for coming up with such a awesome idea when I didn't. LOL

    Rebecca - Right? One of my favorite movies EVER. Hilarious :)

    B.J. - SOOOOOOOO much harder. But I think you're right, it makes them more interesting.

    Camryn - I totally agree (except when it comes to Rogue from the X-Men. I mean, will she EVER stop whining?)

    Kate - I knew I liked you for a reason;) lol We Buffy fans have to stick together.

  18. I can't wait to read what you've got coming up next.

    Also, Ali mentioned a hero who thinks he's a villain. I think it'd also be a lot of fun to write a villain who thinks he's a hero.