Annabel Ashcroft

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Anna's writing advice: teen backstory done RIGHT!


Ugh, OP teens, the bane of my existence........

Ok, not really, but they do annoy me very, VERY greatly. I mean come ON! Most are just so, so......silly in their implication; and they are just so used anymore in both Anime's, YA novels, and fan fiction.

Because of this, too many people are influenced by said anime's and YA books and try to imitate them with their own creations causing them to have also overpowered stats and silly uninspired backgrounds.

But once in a while someone does it right, and I recently saw this in the Anime, (Yes, ANIME! :O ), Vinland Saga.

On the show, a young boy, Thorfinn, is present as his father is murdered by a mercenary troope, and vows revenge on their leader who organized the whole thing. Fast forward 10 years to where Thorfinn is 16 years old and a skilled badass with the dagger, able to kill normal soldiers with ease. Oh God, another OP super skilled teen you might say. But WAIT, this IS different!

For one, they actually SHOW Thorfinn when he starts out as a 6 year old child devastated by his father's death. His happy life and innocence shattered, he does what he thinks he has to do, avenge his father. We watch as he slowly learns how to use a weapon, learns how to kill and get used to it, how to become one of the people he hates so much as he is forced to join the mercenaries to get the experience needed to get good enough to duel the leader.

And ten years later you see the results of Thorfinn's decision. A young man who has developed unbelievable skills by surviving for 10 years on the battlefield, gaining much experience but at a great cost. For although he is a skilled warrior, his heart and soul are dead inside, there is no joy in his life. It is all about the duel and nothing else.

And this is the thing .that is different than most of the other OP teens. We see Thorfinn EARN his power, his skill. It was NOT just handed to him. He has been through utter hell for ten whole years from one battle to the next, fighting, surviving, learning how to become a more efficient killer as his heart and happiness dies a little more with each person he slays. We see him slowly becoming the early version of his father.

I talked about this in my blog on earning ones power, and the writers of this story DO this with their main character. And in doing so, his skill is more accepting in the eyes of the watchers of the tale for we know WHY he is as good as he is.

And here is another thing about Thorfinn. He is actually not THAT good! He gets beat by those BETTER then him, more skilled! We see him try and duel Askeladd over and over again and lose to the man. We see Thorfinn get beat by other more skilled warriors, barely escaping with his life. He is not the end all super awesome warrior yet, just a 16 year old boy who still has a lot to learn to beat his betters.

This a a really good thing as it gives Thorfinn room to GROW as a character, to LEARN things, to go in different and unexpected directions. To pretty much look forward to something as an ADULT!

I have said this before. If you give your teen character everything and then some, then what the hell do they have to look forward to in their adult life?

Note, I have not finished this series, I am only on episode 12 as I write this, so half way through the first season. I am hoping though the quality keeps going and it will stay as engrossing in the 2nd half. I guess I will see.

But if you have seen the show and dabble in writing yourself, LEARN from this show! See how they have the character EARN his power by actually experiencing and doing things, not just being given it for reasons by some God or something.......

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