You are currently browsing the Obsessivity weblog archives for the day Sunday, November 5th, 2006.

05 Nov 2006

The Book, version 2.0


Continued from The Book, version 1.5

So I was in a situation where I quite liked the work I was doing, but seemed doomed to one of two choices: throw away the romantic aspect of the story, or throw away the story itself. Neither one was appealing.

Then I saw Noir.

A lot of people dislike Noir for its lack of character development. There’s some truth to that, though I’d argue that within the context of the story, neither main character needs to change; what needs to change is the relationship between them, and that, it does. [spoiler /Moderate spoiler/ /Hide spoiler/] In fact the entire concept of the Noir duo, in history, in Altena’s view, and in the understanding that Kirika and Mireille come to, is based on the relationship bond between the two.[/spoiler]

The change is subtle, and never explicit. It’s not necessary for the understanding that I reached that Kirika and Mireille are lovers, and some do argue that they’re not, though I’d say that there’s plenty of internal canonical evidence that says they are. It is clear that they come to love each other in some sense, and to have a deep respect for each other.

What I realized after watching it is – there is no strong or weak partner. Mireille’s somewhat the leader, in taking jobs and assigning tasks to Kirika, but the younger girl is the better killer, taking the lead when needed, and Mireille respects her skills and learns from her. In every key aspect, the two women are equals. And it works because there are no gender-based expectations placed upon them.

That is not to say that straight partners can’t be equals – of course they can. Nor to say that a gay pairing wouldn’t be likely to have a dominant partner. But in fiction, you’re either working with or against a stereotype, and both have their problems.

If Andy in my story were gay, she could still take orders from Malcolm, and be as snarky as she wanted with him, because she wouldn’t be in a relationship with him. If she had a love-interest, she wouldn’t be fighting a stereotype by being the dominant partner.

And that’s why Andy stopped being Andy.

Of course, she needed a new name. Using a gender-ambiguous name for a gay character is overdoing it. I wonder even if I’d been subconsciously thinking along these lines when I named her Andy – I already didn’t see her as a conventional girl. So Sara came into being, though she seems more of a “completed” Andy than a different person.

Now, finding her a love-interest within the context of the story – what would be the chance that a girl she encountered as part of the storyline would also be a lesbian? Well, it could happen, but coincidences are rickety crutches in fiction. More likely that she’d be straight. And that opened up a whole new avenue – cool, efficient, sardonic Sara being hopelessly in love with a straight girl.

That had so many interesting possibilities I dropped all of my other obsessions and got right back to writing – right up to a new novel-length draft.

Current obsessions: (anime) Simoun
(writing) “Skeptics project”
(Currently reading) Wintersmith (Terry Pratchett)