Manic Pixie Nightmare

“No one who strips naked to sing lullabies to flowers in a public park has a right to complain about being called batshit.” That’s the defining description of Serena, Flight Plan’s manic pixie nightmare girl.

The phrase is a riff on the term “Manic Pixie Dream Girl,” a term created by a film critic. It’s defined as a one-dimensional female character who exists solely to bring quirkiness into the life of a stuck-in-the-mud male protagonist. She teaches him important lessons and leaves him with adorable memories, then conveniently disappears when he decides to live his own life fully.  (Want to know more? Go here: tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Main/ManicPixieDreamGirl )

Serena is NOT a MPDG in that sense, but she is immensely wacky.  I wonder sometimes if Flight Plan suffers from her not being the main character. To be blunt, Flight Plan doesn’t sell. People start it and then stop. I think it has a lot to do with Serena and her foil, Naomi.  Naomi is supposed to be the protagonist, but she is very much other-focused. She’s weak and a bit of a wet blanket, and so she isn’t as sympathetic as she could be.

I could’ve made Naomi stronger. I could’ve given wacky, more-appealing Serena more page-time and made her the protagonist. I could’ve gone with a simpler premise and cut out characters to make the plot flow more smoothly. Heck, I could’ve picked a single genre–dystopian drama, techno-thriller, romance, mystery. Instead I wrote the messy multi-threaded over-populated story I wanted to read. Serena and Naomi are complicated people living murky,  messy lives, but I guess I don’t show that well enough to give it that all-important hook.

They’re people to me, not characters, and so I wrote the story that came from them. Serena’s insanity is part of her, just like her zest for living, and she is not capable of standing at the center of any action. Naomi has real strengths as well as the more obvious weaknesses. They apparently just not relatable enough, and for those who wanted to see more of the characters from Controlled Descent, Serena and Naomi are pale substitutes.

Because, of course, they aren’t substitutes. They’re themselves. Maybe I don’t show them off well enough to suck people in and make them stick around, but…I do love them.

Time: lunch break at botany class
Tea: Irish Breakfast. Again.
Steeped: I lost track.

4 thoughts on “Manic Pixie Nightmare

  1. Susan S-F says:

    We’re ALL “complicated people living murky, messy lives”. That’s one of the things I like about your work – the characters are REAL. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

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