Ravyn Freewrites: Alter Ego Rumble?

This train of thoughts is the direct result of Seanan McGuire interviewing herself on her… self’s… publisher’s website. Or rather, of Seanan trying to interview her nom de plume, and Mira in return trying to rip Seanan apart with her bare words and for the most part seeming to succeed. Science-zombie-lady is vicious. (…seriously, just read the interview.)

I’d originally thought this was going to touch off some sort of characterization exercise involving one’s characters—MCs, PCs and other favorites, primarily, as it’s just no fun watching someone’s favorite bashing that same person’s least favorite in another setting or watching a minor character carol the praises of an Author’s Darling. I don’t expect that from everyone, but it’s easy, too easy, particularly if you’re getting blocked on that sort of exercise.

But then I tried to get my various PCs to go at it. It’s not like I don’t have a bunch, and couldn’t see the kind of roles they might take—Amaya and her NPC variations, Tehane and hers, Taraneh and Karasu trying to stay the heck out of the way as Tuyet got in snark-battles with someone like Liang or Hoyt, and then Chiko and Shizuyo get into The Familiar Wars with GV’s Lilith (particularly since one could make a case for Lilith phenotypically being halfway between the two)….

It didn’t have the same zing to it, though.

I can think of a lot of potential reasons for this. The fact that I see all the ways these characters are the same, even as they’re different. Not really being sure if they have something important enough to fight about that they’d want to pull out all the stops. Perhaps a certain squeamishness about tearing them apart; much fun though I have inviting psychological damage on them, and much though at some point in my life I’ve hated most of them. It’s almost invariably the case that I hate my characters early on, sometimes even later on if they’ve lost their way, but once I’m past that stage where I don’t know them and they don’t know me, I only have the stomach to wound them, not to destroy them. I think. There’s probably a better phrasing somewhere out there.

It’s not that they’d necessarily get along. You can’t put the unremittingly vicious in the same room as the unstintingly compassionate without some clash. Some are too little like each other; some are too much like each other; I’m pretty sure at least one resembles something another would rather die than be. Two (of whom I have never gotten to play one) are explicitly enemies, or would be if that particular game had ever run. And yet I put them in their pairs and trios under a glass like a child making ants fight, and as often as not they exchange glances, then turn to look at me like I’ve lost my mind.

How very peculiar. Those of you with particularly self-directed characters: have you had this experience?

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