January 5, 2016


First: an update!  A week or so ago, after I had spent the first chunk of my winter break preparing for Christmas, I was at last able to break the 100,000 word mark in my rewrite of Wordcrafter.  I hadn't had many opportunities to write during the semester, as usual; during the week my mind is too engaged with schoolwork, and on the weekends I just don't want to put the energy into the whole words-putting-into-sentences-doing.  (Many, many kudos to those of you who can juggle college and writing.  You are amazing.)  Thus, while I'd written a little here and there, returning to it properly was difficult.  But progress has been made and some fun things have been written, and I'm happy with what I've been able to accomplish before a) heading to a conference and b) starting the spring semester.

Increasingly as I write this novel, I've noticed that one of its more interesting and challenging aspects is that it is the first novel I've written that features a male protagonist and a female antagonist.  The Soldier's Cross has a female protagonist and a male antagonist; the Sea Fever books have a male antagonist and male and female protagonists; and Tempus Regina has a female protagonist and male and female antagonists.  So I guess having gone through just about every other permutation, a male protagonist and a female antagonist in Wordcrafter was inevitable.  All the same, it's presented some new and unexpected problems -- especially as this rewrite finds the villain darker, more aggressive, more dangerous.  In contrast, Justin, my main character, is, well, a nice guy: a hold-the-door-for-you, carry-your-bag fellow.

Playing these two characters off one another is great fun, but it's also somewhat sticky business.  Justin's personality, as well the book's potential readership, rules out certain actions and reactions between them; whereas Tip is free to punch Lewis in the face, and whereas Regina can vent her spleen by dressing down her (female) rival, there is a code of conduct which Justin is obliged to follow.  The villain, in turn, knows it and capitalizes on it.

Sharply, I said, “You can’t hit a woman, Ethan.” 
He flicked aside my concern as I had just flicked away his. “No,” he allowed, “and one often senses them taking advantage of the fact.” 
- wordcrafter

This kind of situation demands a unique relationship between protagonist and villain.  On the one hand, the female antagonist in many ways has the upper hand; her arsenal is packed with weapons Justin can't or won't deploy.  On the other, the protagonist can't be milquetoasty, doing nothing simply because the villain is a woman [because a) that makes for a boring story and b) is super annoying]; he has to find new weapons to use.  Writing in that tension is, I'm finding, quite difficult, but it also makes for some very enjoyable, thought-provoking character dynamics.

what are some of your protagonist-antagonist pairings? which ones have been especially challenging or fun?


  1. Just when I think you can't sound any smarter, you go and use a word like "milquetoast". And I call myself a word nerd!

    I always love reading your posts. Learn something new every time. :)


    1. Glad I could defy expectations! XD And thank you: I'm so glad you enjoy the [sadly few] posts here on Scribbles.

  2. Ooh, that is exciting, Abigail! It excites me hearing you talk about you writing now and again (huzzah!) despite the craziness that must be uni-life =). I know, I'm having a grind figuring out how to write in my last year of highschool (the too-busyness of the weekdays, and the exhaustion of the weekends, you described it down pat), so how much more challenging will it be with a university-education? Kudos to you all the way for the 100,000 mark ^_^

    Oooh, it was fascinating hearing you talk about your characters and your villains vs. protagonist struggle. I'm already so really fond of Justin (he's my kind of boy, kind, gentlemanly and full of manly integrity ;). But Ethan - now I think he is my favourite - and I hardly know anything about him either. Oops! It's that he just sounds so cool?

    Can you give us a definition of "milquetoast" please? :)

    P.S. I hope to write you something of a letter over the Summer break - it's been to long, and I'm sorry about that!

    1. I'm glad you already like the characters, Joy! Ethan and Justin are great fun and they play off each other well; I enjoy writing them, if nothing else! They've been around my head a long time, so I hope I can do justice to them.

      Milquetoast! It's apparently an Americanism, from an old cartoon character; it's "a very timid, unassertive, spineless person, especially one who is easily dominated or intimidated." I hear it used a lot, so it seems like a perfectly natural phrase to me, but I hadn't known the origins of it until recently. It's a good word: very evocative.

  3. Your pairing sounds very intriguing! I love the concept of having the code-of-conduct prevent the protagonist from doing bodily harm to the antagonist. Fascinating :) As for my characters, I don't think they're well enough developed to be able to comment on any relationships/interactions (mainly because I have barely written a word in 2 years :/ oy!).


meet the authoress
I am a writer of historical fiction and fantasy, scribbling from my home in the United States. More importantly, I am a Christian, which flavors everything I write. My debut novel, "The Soldier's Cross," was published by Ambassador Intl. in 2010.
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published writings

The Soldier's Cross: Set in the early 15th Century, this is the story of an English girl's journey to find her brother's cross pendant, lost at the Battle of Agincourt, and of her search for peace in the chaotic world of the Middle Ages.
finished writings

Tempus Regina:Hurled back in time and caught in the worlds of ages past, a Victorian woman finds herself called out with the title of the time queen. The death of one legend and the birth of another rest on her shoulders - but far weightier than both is her duty to the brother she left alone in her own era. Querying.
currently writing

Wordcrafter: "One man in a thousand, Solomon says / will stick more close than a brother. / And it's worthwhile seeking him half your days / if you find him before the other." Justin King unwittingly plunges into one such friendship the day he lets a stranger come in from the cold. Wordcount: 124,000 words

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