Monday, May 14, 2012

All My Characters Are Orphans

Okay. Not all of them. But my point is that I've noticed over the years almost all of my main characters have Absent Parent Syndrome. Specifically, Absent Mother Syndrome.

Let's break it down by series:


Danielle - Mother is (presumed) dead, father is dead, both from separate car accidents before she was in kindergarten. (In a previous life, both her parents died in a similar fashion. Oops!)

Devon - Father ditched before he was born, mother was emotionally distant growing up and did fun stuff like drugs and getting them evicted everywhere. Needless to say, he doesn't talk to her much. (In a previous life, both of his parents were assassinated in front of him when he was a teenager. Wee!)

Miranda - Mother is emotionally distant and abusive, father is kinda-sorta destroying half the universe.

Yumiko - Yeaaaaaaahhh. No.


Jack - Parents are murdered while he is away as a teenager. Spends the rest of his life wishing he could avenge them better. Blah blah blah.

Jessie - My only character with an emotionally healthy mother around. Congrats! Dad's a dick though, so we still fill my status quo.

Roku - Parents are murdered in similar fashion to Jack's. Spends the rest of eternity pretty bitter about it.

Zachoran - Mother died during childbirth. Father is emotionally distant and abusive but dies of tuberculosis anyway.

MY POINT IS...for some reason I love killing parents or otherwise screwing up my MCs' relationships with their parents (especially their mothers). It's bizarre to me because I have a great relationship with my mother, and even though my real father skipped out when I was a toddler I was raised by a step-father pretty early on. All I can figure is...I'm lazy. I already have a million characters and if I don't have to deal with MCs' parents then wooooo! Seriously. That's all I can figure. Although  I do love me some "mommy didn't love me" angst in novels. 

Do your characters tend to have parents around, or are they emotionally and maybe  even realistically roughing it on their own? 


  1. I've a similar thing for about half of my MCs. Though some, having had their birth parents taken by whatever means, have other people happily raising them.

    Then again, one MC has his mother howling for his blood so ... yeeeah, I guess he makes up for it. ^_^

  2. I think a character that's roughing it alone is a far more interesting character. And it certainly doesn't make you a lazy writer - we all have things we keep coming back to, ideas we need to explore fully through a whole set of different characters.

    1. No, most of it actually is laziness. Most of the time I don't let my characters have parents (for long) because I don't want to deal with them =P

  3. Maybe it's becasue you have a such a great relationship with your mother that you do that. It's one of the worst things you can do to child. Plus, in YA it's hard to write a story if the parents are always hanging around. Luckily my character just travels through time so her parents aren't around :)

    1. Well, I don't write YA so I don't think that has anything to do with it. Almost all my characters are fully grown by the time I introduce them (not including flashbacks to any memories). Traveling around time is a convenient way to get rid of parents, though.

  4. This is... actually a very good point. Never thought about it before, but I'm pretty much the same.
    Farhâz: mother constantly reminds him that he is not as good as his [dead] father. He ran away a lot as a child.
    Harrmond: who knows? He has no memory and his "mother" is a creepy ghost lady that pops up to scare the main characters every few chapters.
    And then the other characters too...
    My own mother may be less maternal than Stephen Fry's left ear, but my character's are a few steps in the crazy direction. I dunno why; drama, maybe?

  5. Birth parents are often lousy, absent, or dead; adoptive parents are generally better, except in one character's case. If the birth parents are good, they often have to outlive their children. I'm really cruel to my characters. One even has to suffer the loss of her patents and her beloved daughter.

    But that's the character who just has ALL THE MISERABLE THINGS happen to her.

    (In my heart, I think of her as one of two core characters in the plot, the other being a character who never actually shows up.)

    ((Sorry to do this, but anyone who's curious about my unfortunate characters can take a look here: /shameless self-promotion

    I'm even more interested in your books now, Hildred. I have a soft spot for unfortunate familial relationships.

  6. This is the case with a lot of published YA books as well. I think up until a certain age, characters can't have any real adventures if they're sitting at home with their parents, or travelling around with their parents, or what have you.

    In my upcoming WIP, the MC's are in their late teens, but I think having their parents around still felt like a limiting factor, at least to my subconscious. Becuase...I've planned for them to do a lot of things at night. Lol.

    I suppose the real issue is this: If you have caring, responsible, competent adults constantly looking out for your MC, they're going to handle all the problems and there will be nothing left for the MC to do.


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