HELP— Is My Heroine Helpless?

Forums Fiction Characters HELP— Is My Heroine Helpless?

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    Sarah Narnathron


    So, one of the projects I’m considering for Camp NaNoWriMo* is editing my dark steampunk Rapunzel retelling in which the Rapunzel character is trapped in a clock tower by a group of dark alchemists who sort of used her as a very illegal experiment. However, the more I consider the story, the more I’m worried that my Rapunzel character (hereafter referred to by her name, Breen) doesn’t have enough agency in her own story. Her part of the plot basically consists of:

    • Is trapped, miserable, wondering if she still really counts as human/alive due to what the alchemists did to her.
    • The prince (Josiah) shows up; talks to her; tries to pry her story out of her. She resists telling him because she’s worried about her family (who she thinks the alchemists may try to hurt if she reveals any of their secrets).
    • Breen and Josiah become friends as he continues to visit her by night; because of their friendship, Breen starts to believe she’s worth something/still human.
    • Alchemists find out what’s going on; use Breen to threaten Josiah and stop him from revealing their secrets.
    • There’s a fight; Breen basically sacrifices herself (she thinks) so one of the alchemists won’t kill Josiah. She doesn’t die; uses her knowledge of the clock tower to stun the alchemist so Josiah can get an advantage over her.
    • Josiah gets seriously injured; Breen risks her life (again) to try to heal him.

    So, yes, Breen does do things, but they’re very centered on Josiah. And I don’t want to accidentally imply that girls’ lives should be centered on guys or that girls need a “big, strong man” to save them, physically or emotionally. But I’m not sure how to fix the story so those things don’t happen. Does anyone have any advice?

    Thanks in advance!

    -Sarah Narnathron

    *Yes, I should’ve sorted out what I’m doing by now. In my defense, I thought I had.

    Welcome to the masquerade.


    @sarah-narnathron Hi! I think it kind of depends on the length of the story. If there are a lot of characters, maybe give Breen another friend to interact with and help. If it’s basically just her and Josiah, I think the way it is sounds fine – she is acting mainly around his needs, but it’s because she loves him and because he is essentially her only friend. I might say differently if the prince was the one doing all the fighting and Breen was completely helpless, but because she actively saves his life, I think it’s okay how it is.

    It sounds like a cool idea, by the way; I’d love to read it! 😀

    Sarah Narnathron

    @mnvalentine Thanks for your input; I appreciate it! There aren’t a ton of major characters— just Breen, Josiah, two antagonists, and one of Josiah’s friends. So that shouldn’t be an issue, at least.

    As far as reading it goes— I’ll hopefully be looking for beta readers this fall. If you want, I can let you know when that happens. 🙂

    Welcome to the masquerade.


    Yeah, let me know 🙂 I’d love to!!

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