When writing, we put our main characters through a loot of trauma.
“Oh you were born a princess and raised to rule the kingdom as it’s rightful Queen? Well, not today sweetheart. Send in the treacherous stepmother, the poisonous vizier and heck, why not, let’s throw in an Ogre invasion just to top it off.”
Let’s face it as writers, sometimes we are not nice people. In the pursuit of a tale, we kill off parents to orphen our heroes at a young age. We often create much childhood trauma in a variety of ways. We put these poor innocent creations of our own making in dangerous situations routinely and at times we lop off heads with a glee and abandon that the Queen of Hearts would envy.
It’s a good thing I have such a healthy self-esteem or I might begin to suspect I was not a nice person.
On the other hand, we also do very nice things for our fictional friends. We provide magic swords and winning lottery tickets. We make certain that no matter how rag tag the in hiding princesses throughout our lands wear on a daily basis they always have the perfect ball gown for when they need to show the upstart tyrant what’s what. And although no one ever mentions it, we always make sure her hair and makeup are just perfect as well.
Seriously, you never hear the gathered crowd gasp in awe at the magnificence of the ball gown and then turn to each other and say. “Eunice, did you see that gown? Oh fit for a royal indeed. How could she be anything but our long lost princess? But, oh girl that blush. No. Someone should have stopped her.”
I swear one day I am going to write either a hair stylist or a makeup artist who works for a Fairy Godmother. Just because that has always sort of bothered me.
But that is another story.
The point is that as bad as we often are to our characters, when we decide to be nice, sometimes we go overboard. It doesn’t have to be the perfect hair and makeup to go with the ball gown. It can be the perfect tool to achieve a job at the absolute perfect time. Don’t get me wrong, sometimes that can be part of the story. In my book Nameless the title character has magic and doesn’t realize it and accidentally summons the things he needs to him (into his closet actually) exactly when he needs them. While at first he doesn’t realize it is magic, the consistency does cue the reader in to the fact that something isn’t quite as it seems.
Because no one gets exactly what they need everytime they need it in stories without some sort of mischief being afoot.
You can also make a character very lucky. If you do though, you have to explain it. Maybe his fairy godmother gifted him with luck when she blessed him. Or he is secretly in possession of a lucky talisman.
Unless you have a reason behind his constantly being lucky then you need to need to look at how generous you plan to be to your character. Are you letting him be lucky until his luck runs out in a spectacular way? Or maybe should that perfect tool be something a little less perfect. Something he can make do with even if it isn’t quite right.
And then of course you can go right back to being mean.
He may have been lucky to find a tent in the backpack he stole from the enemy camp when fleeing for his life, and even been lucky enough to get it put up just in time to cover himself in the downpour, but there is no reason that tent shouldn’t have a leak.
When writing there is the tendency to be really bad or really good to your characters and often to swing between the two, one often making up for the other. Sometimes it is better to blur the edges a little to make it seem more realistic. He gets the tent up in time, but it leaks. She escapes the ogres, but gets stung by fire ants in the process and has to march around with one hand swollen and unusable for a few hours. He is still lucky to have the tent because he is only damp instead of soaked and she is still lucky to have escaped from the ogres even if her hand is throbbing with pain and swollen.
A great piece of luck tempered with minor misfortune can go a long way towards making the luck you need your character to have in order to survive seem more natural and less suspiciously contrived. Just as a hint of hope can keep the darkest of misfortunes from seeming too overwhelming.
As the yet to be created makeup artist to the Godmothers will soon be heard to say to the princess with the unfortunate blush – “Blend my darlings, blend.”