Dear Wendy – reworking a character

Forsaken Dreamscape rewrites have been going well, though slow and tedious at times, and now that I’m coming down to the final sections where I’ve had to rework so much, I’ll be turning to another important task: adjusting the main character and truly bringing her from the old Wendy to the new Wren.

It’s true that they are similar as I intended, but reading through it, even with the name changes, I can tell that there is still something wrong with her. So as I go back through it again, I’ll be examining her character and motives a bit more closely, and here are a few of the things that I feel the need to adjust:

She’s not crazy – During the course of editing Forsaken Dreamscape, not just this time but wayyyyy back since the beginning, Wendy/Wren has gone through many changes as far as her behavior and degree of sanity.  She’s always started out in an asylum, which was a big element that I wasn’t willing to change (somehow I always love dealing with mad people) and this is a detail that is important to fans, so it remains as it is.  In the beginning (2002 or something; it’s been a long time!) she went from having very childish behaviors, as if her time in the asylum had actually driven her insane and caused her to mentally stop aging because she didn’t want to grow up – and then I eventually took her to a point where she was faking her behaviors in order to keep herself in the asylum to wait for deliverance. This time, I’ve gone even further in that direction.

I’ve always been very interested in Victorian life – specifically asylums – and I’ve come to discover a few things that perhaps I didn’t know back then, the main of which is that a person (woman in many cases) did not necessarily have to be stark-raving mad to be admitted to an asylum.  In Wren’s case, it does make sense that she should belong there after what she is accused of (and blaming it on a fairy, no less) but Wren is fully aware of her circumstances. Perhaps she has been affected by her unfortunate life, but she is not crazy, and she is not a child.

She’s too weak sometimes; personality-wise – Because of events in Nevermor and the realizations she reached, her former helplessness and compliance seem to be out of place now. And what’s more, they are annoying. I think this has always annoyed me about her, but when she was Wendy, I felt I had more boundaries, needing to match her up to the way she was in the former Peter Pan stories. Now that she is my own character, I can watch her grow on her own.

It has been a theme in modern Peter Pan-related works to paint the female character (usually not Wendy, but sometimes) with a childish, but tougher female attitude. Like she has to be a tomboy to be able to hang with so many guys; she has to be willing to pick up a sword, etc. While I have never intended for my female lead to be a warrior, I was still unhappy with her because she never had the strength of mind that would make her more than a puppet in the whole scheme of things. I want to bring her out of that and improve her without turning her into Xena. (Please tell me you know Xena… Okay, without turning her into Katniss.)

She cries a lot! – And I mean A LOT! She’s always tearing up or feeling like crying or actually crying. In fact, the word ‘tear’ appears 33 times and the word ‘cry’ appears 34 times (though not always applying to Wren). Still, that’s too much crying! (There’s no crying in Nevermor!! Except on special occasions.)  I can appreciate the power of a good cry for a character, but not as much as she seems to bring out the waterworks. I’d rather her handle her misfortunes with a silent dignity. (But I haven’t hardened her or anything. She’s still a bit emotional, as well she should be.)

She relies too much on blind faith – While this will still come into play somewhat, I hated how she pushed so many problems from her mind based on the idea of ‘Rifter said so, so it must be true’. While that behavior might be based on a character like Wendy from the old Peter Pan stories, Wren has grown and can have a bit more personality she was lacking before.

Now she has more of a backstory that I can draw from – This is true for all of the characters, actually. Since I went back and worked with Nevermor, I know where Wren and the rest of them have been. I know about their recent past, the subtle quirks of their personalities, and how the plot arc has affected them, which does occasionally change the way they act in certain situations… That should be fun. It’ll add a little bit of surprise for those who have read it before.

So, again I turn to the questions. For those who have read Neverland: Forsaken Dreamscape as a fanfiction, what did you like most about Wendy’s character, and what did you hate?

As far as my progress, I’m into a more advanced fine-tuning stage. It’s been a real battle and still is, correcting all the head-hopping, changing a lot of the details and just generally adding more to the story so that it can be better. Lately, I feel like all I’ve been doing is cutting stuff, so after cleaving a fair amount from the story, I have around 142K words right now. It’s slightly shorter than Nevermor, but there are still a few bits I’m thinking of adding, I just haven’t done it yet. I originally released Nevermor a bit too early, I think, without really giving it the editing love it deserved. Editing takes a loong time, especially with a looong document, but I’ve learned a few tricks. Still, I’m going to spend these last few months giving  Forsaken Dreamscape the editing polish it needs to be perfect the first time.

For those who are curious, it took me about 6 months AFTER I released Nevermor to really edit it like I wanted to. So, all published versions of it are excellent now.

I guess that’s about it for now! More news to come!

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One thought on “Dear Wendy – reworking a character

  1. Nicole Wasson

    When I read Neverland: Forsaken Dreamscape, way back when, Wendy’s character bothered me. Some of her reactions to things just seemed totally irrational and she did cry…a lot. She also seemed to float along a while, getting used to new Neverland, and occasionally didn’t seem to have a clear purpose or direction. I attributed all of the things I disliked about her to her character model from the original Peter Pan (I did not much care for her when I read that either). I guess I get frustrated because Wendy, as a person, has so much potential to be more than the helpless love interest. I am outrageously excited about your project. I immediately bought Nevermor and read it in a day. I enjoyed it immensely the characters are fuller, their story is going places, and most of all Rifter and Wren are becoming something so much more than Peter and Wendy. In so many ways. How they interact with others, how they interact with each other, and how they will grow as “human beings”. It has been a little while since I read Nevermor and, if I remember correctly, Wren has a big problem with fighting. I don’t recall if this was in Nevermor or Forsaken Dreamscape but it irritated me to no end. She created situations that did not need to be so hectic if she had just picked up the sword or whatever weapon was lying around and defended herself. Maybe this is an important characteristic so that Rifter will protect her and learn the meaning of that, or if Wren represents peace and that is why she refuses to fight. I think it is important for her to represent that but not because she has no other choice. She should know/learn basic fighting skills and choose not to use them if she believes she can remedy the situation without them, but if craziness ensues it would be nice if she could sufficiently protect herself. She is incredibly strong mentally I would hate for the Atypical damsel in distressness to take away from that. Any woo, that is my little blurb about old Wendy and new Wren. I love your writing and am waiting with baited breath for your Forsaken Dreamscape rewrite. Thank you for transforming one of my favourite tales into something I can enjoy in such a drastically different way than the amazing story of Peter Pan I read as a kid. You have a long time and dedicated fan here for sure!

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