Tag Archives: character development

Thoughts on Writing – Why Rose Tico is an Awesome Character

When I watched The Last Jedi, it was before a number of rather vocal movie goers started ranting about how much they hated it.

Was it my favorite movie? No. I’m picky when it comes to movies.

But did I enjoy The Last Jedi? Yeah, I did. I also enjoyed it the second time I watched it, after I’d heard the arguments against it.

Today, I want to explain why.

I’ve been a Star Wars fan for a while (especially the Extended Universe/Legends), and for me, The Last Jedi hit a lot of the things I love about Star Wars, especially in regards to the Force.

But today, I want to focus on a character from the The Last Jedi. For some reason, a number of people who watched the movie seem to hate Rose Tico (and some “fans” have gone way too far with their criticism and directed inappropriate comments at the actress, prompting her to delete her Instagram account). (EDIT: Further information can be read in this New York Times article.)

I’m not really sure why people hate Rose’s character, (or the actress, since I thought she did a wonderful job with her portrayal) since Rose was one of my favorite characters in the movie. (I think my favorite might have been Kylo Ren, because of his fascinating ongoing struggle, but that’s a subject for another post).

((Warning… spoilers ahead for The Last Jedi.))

Rose Tico - Movie Still from The Last Jedi

Rose Tico (Movie Still from The Last Jedi)

The thing I loved about Rose is that she’s a bright-eyed idealist who is willing to go out and try (even when trying sometimes ends in failure). She cares about people and creatures, and she wants desperately to protect the people she cares about.

That bright-eyed wonder when she comes up close to a fathier (those adorable dog-horse creatures on the race tracks)… and the compassion she has for the kids in the stables because she’s been there, and she wants to see them have a better life… that’s the reason she’s awesome. She’s had a bad incident in her past (multiple, given that she recently lost her sister), but she’s not jaded. She gives those kids hope, which we see at the end of the movie when one of them kids peeks out at the stars and reveals the rebellion ring Rose once had.

(A note on the movie as a whole…) Not only do we see the kid’s hope, but this felt like a nice callback to the Expanded Universe. The kid is obviously Force-sensitive, as we see him snag the broom to sweep without touching it. This reminded me quite a bit of a scene from one of the Expanded Universe (now known as Star Wars Legends) books in which a Jedi was out searching for other Force users, and one scene involved him going to the racetracks and looking for the people who were unusually lucky to see if they had the Force. (Unfortunately, I can’t remember which Jedi it was that did this, or who it was that got recruited. If you remember who this was or which book, feel free to drop a comment below).

(Another note on the movie as a whole…) I also really liked the Canto Bight scene because it reminded me a lot of the Knights of the Old Republic games… especially with the morally gray “these people are weapons dealers, but they sell to both the First Order, and the Rebellion.”

Anyway, back on topic: Rose’s character seemed to center around hope and compassion. In the beginning of the movie, when we see her upset about the loss of her sister, we also see her hopefulness when she meets Finn for the first time–a hero.

But rather than going into complete despair when she realizes that he’s trying to flee the ship and leave behind the people she cares about, we see this petulant (slightly adorable) look of frustration. Here she thought he was a hero, and after everyone who just died, he’s trying to flee?

She zaps him.

(Though I felt bad for Finn, because I really didn’t blame him, I loved this reaction because we can just feel her frustration). She’s relatable. How many times do we sometimes wish we could just zap somebody who is doing something stupid? (Not a good idea in real life, but hey… wish fulfillment).

While I’m not usually a fan of characters who are big on loyalty (They can be rather frustrating to write because they keep wanting to do stupid stuff in the name of loyalty), I liked that she has loyalty to an idea, rather than to a single person or group, who can be deeply flawed.

She wants to save people (as stated by her quote, “That’s how we are going to win. Not fighting what we hate, but saving what we love.”) and she’s willing to risk her life and place in the rebellion to do so. Yes, she’s part of an insurrection, but it was done out of the belief that what Admiral Holdo was doing was going to get those people killed.

(I would like to add another note here. The entire problem of the fleet being nearly destroyed at the end of the movie could have been avoided if one of two things happened: A. If Holdo had simply told Poe the plan so he would realize that she wasn’t some kind of untrustworthy spy, or B. If Holdo had thrown Poe in the brig after he’d gotten so many people killed by refusing orders and getting in her face demanding answers. Topic for another day).

Though Rose, Finn, and Poe’s choice to go after the tracking technology the First Order has ultimately ends in tragedy, Rose was doing everything she could to save the people she cared about, to try and prevent them from dying like her sister.

And you know what?

I found that completely believable.

Good guys don’t always make the right choices. They don’t know everything, and can’t predict the future. They can only do what they think is best, and hope they’re doing the right thing. That’s what we see from Rose.

She’s trying her hardest to protect people after the loss of her sister and so many of the rebellion members in an earlier battle scene. She wants to make a difference. She wants to help.

And she saves Finn, who was so dead-set on self-sacrifice to stop the big cannon from tunneling through the door that he would have gotten himself needlessly killed. She cared about him, and protected him.

She was saving the people she loved.

(Granted, it probably would have been better if the editing of the movie didn’t show the door to the rebel base being blown up behind her and Finn… but that wasn’t exactly Rose’s fault. I will also admit that the kiss between her and Finn felt a little cliche, but then, movies are very rarely perfect.)

Overall, I found her to be a great character. She was well-written, and Loan (Kelly Marie) Tran did an excellent job depicting her.

I look forward to seeing her again in the next movie, and I’m curious as to where the Star Wars saga goes next.

* * *

That’s all for now. I hope you enjoyed this post. Let me know if you’d like to see more in depth posts on what I thought of specific characters or plot points. 🙂

8/22/2018 – Edited to include link to a recent article that came out yesterday and to include Kelly Marie Tran’s real name per that article, Loan.

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Thoughts on Writing – Developing Character Relations

While waiting for beta readers to finish reading Magic’s Stealing, I’ve been doing a lot of edits on The Multiverse Chronicles. However, editing is not writing, and I got the itch to write. I didn’t want to move to book two of The Wishing Blade series until book one was complete, and I just finished reading On Writing Romance, so I decided to attempt to write a new adult, science-fiction romance. It’s set in the early days of the Distant Horizon universe, where super villains have secretly taken over the US government and wiped out people with super powers, all by claiming they have a hallucinogenic plague. In hindsight, writing a romance was probably a terrible idea, given that I am not an avid romance reader, and romances tend to end badly in the DH universe. But it was a personal challenge, and I accepted.

Anyway, I’ve been writing scenes here and there, and I’ve been developing the characters. Since romance focuses heavily on character interaction, I soon found that I had an issue. My characters felt weak and unrelated to the plot. They interacted, but only loosely.

That wasn’t going to work.

So I started examining the individual characters, and how they interacted with the other characters in the story.

These are the original characters:

Tamara: The heroine. College freshman with an undeclared major. Considering business or graphic arts. No powers. As a kid, she was raised by her mother, and due to shaky relations with her father, her mother instilled the whole ‘stranger danger’ fear in her daughter. Because of this, Tamara longs for stability, so she signs up for the new “EYEnet Match” program at her college, which promises to find her a near-perfect match.

 

Cole: The hero. College junior studying communication and leadership. Telepath, but he can’t tell anyone due to government regulations. He’s forced to join the EYEnet Match program as a means to get close to Tamara’s best friend, Amy, so that he can secretly scan her mind and see if she’s working with Challenge, a so-called terrorist cell. He doesn’t want to participate because he likes Tamara and he’s afraid he’ll end up hurting her if the government’s suspicions prove true.

 

Amy: Tamara’s best friend. College freshman. No powers. Lost a sibling to the ‘plague.’ She believes in true love, and thinks the EYEnet Match program is basically another online dating site. She’s interested in linguistics. She’s a bit of a rebel, but she has no interest in Challenge. She starts to fall for Joan.

 

Joan: College freshman. Skeptical of EYEnet Match, but decides to give it a try. Develops feelings for Amy when they meet in linguistics club, causing problems with her own ‘match.’ Joan carries a shield, which blocks powers, and she secretly works for Challenge (the ‘terrorist’ cell that the government is eyeing. Most of them aren’t really terrorists, but that’s how they’re portrayed).

 

Mr. Rivera: The counselor who organizes the EYEnet Match program on campus. He is Cole’s government supervisor, and he believes he lost his daughter during a terrorist attack. He orders Cole to keep an eye on Amy, and arranges for Tamara and Cole to hook up so that Cole can get in close without raising suspicions.

The problem with this particular arrangement of characters, however, is that the main plot lacked a focus on Tamara and Cole. Plus, when I described Amy and Joan to my husband as I went through the basic points of the plot (and it doesn’t help that I accidentally kept calling the main character Amy), he initially thought that Amy and Joan were the same person. Not only were the characters weak, but the plot lacked a strong conflict. Why wouldn’t Mr. Rivera have Cole keeping an eye on Joan, instead?

My husband suggested that I ‘kill my darlings’ and merge Amy and Joan’s characters. Then he suggested that I develop Tamara’s character a bit differently, since she currently had very little effect on how the story played out.

These are the modified characters:

Tamara: The heroine. College freshman with an interest in journalism. Secretly keeps a stash of old articles detailing the history of super powers, so she immediately becomes suspicious of Cole, who seems to read her mind. Nosy, she’s gets herself involved with the plot as she seeks answers to Cole’s secrets. She still has her family background of instability, which increases her need to know what he’s hiding because she longs to make their relationship work.

 

Cole: Hero. Not much changed from above. He believes his powers are a result of the plague, at least until Tamara gets involved.

 

Amy: Tamara’s best friend. College freshman studying linguistics. Has powers– the extended ability to block other people’s powers. She’s not a member of Challenge, but she’s trying to get their attention because she wants in, and it’s leading her to make a few rash decisions. In the past she was close friends with a cousin who was part of the program, but he kept her powers a secret from them and refused to let her join because he wanted her to get an education first. She has no interest in EYEnet Match, and because she’s not interested in men, Mr. Rivera can’t have Cole approach her directly.

 

Mr. Rivera: Still a counselor and still Cole’s supervisor, but now, instead of believing that he lost his daughter during an attack, he knows the truth– she was killed by the government villains because she was one of the dissidents. But Mr. Rivera maintains the charade of believing the lies so he can act as a double-agent. He pairs Cole with Tamara because he wants Cole close to Amy, mostly so he can find out if she might be interested in joining Challenge.

By combining Amy and Joan’s characters, and fleshing out the details of the other characters, we have relationships that are ripe for conflict, while still ensuring that these characters actually want to be together. Combining characters won’t always work, but it often leads to stronger character development. I plan to move a couple lines from Joan to a minor character, but other than that, I think combining them will make the story much stronger.

Now I’ve got to decide on her new name: Amy, Joan, JoAnn, Amy Jo/AJ… the list goes on. For now, I’m listing her as Amy in the manuscript, and I’ll do a ‘find and replace’ once I make a decision.

I hope you found this post helpful. 🙂

Have you ever thought about combining characters to make a story stronger?

 

 

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