"The Jealous Rival" and Other Inspiring Characters

I have just reread one of my first works of fiction, grandly entitled: "The Jealous Rival: In Death Not Divided". Featuring beautiful maidens, awful love poetry, and grisly deaths, it is a masterpiece of my 10-year-old imagination. Here's a gem of a scene:

"Bertram and Geraldine were immensely happy and started to make plans for a grand wedding. But then, alas, shadows began to darken over their paths. Cordelia was secretly in love with Bertram de Vere herself, and when Geraldine told her about the engagement, she was simply furious...One evening, Cordelia, thinking they were alone, pushed Geraldine off a bridge with a wild mocking, 'Ha ha ha! You will never marry Bertram now!' But Bertram saw it all and at once he plunged into the dangerous current, exclaiming, 'I will save thee, my peerless Geraldine! Have no fear!' But alas, he had forgotten that he couldn't swim, and they were both drowned, clasped in each other's arms."
Anne Shirley writing
Well, we all have to start somewhere.

I credit Anne Shirley and Jo March, two literary heroines of my childhood, with inspiring me to write.

Anne and Jo drew shy, lonely little me into their worlds because I could see myself reflected in them. We were all quick-tempered, imaginative, and something of the odd-one-out.
I devoured all the books in both series as I grew up; “watching” Anne and Jo become adults and seeing how they coped with changes and decision-making helped me navigate the ups and downs of my own adolescence.  I loved and even aped the characters in some respects. Certainly in writing.

The descriptions of their writing adventures in Anne of Green Gables, Little Women, and Little Women Wedded, complete with stories as melodramatic as my own early input, helped convince me to bring my own wild imaginings to life, to send things out to be published (some of my pieces were!), and to begin a Story Club with my friends. That club would produce several years-worth of joyful story writing and reading. 

Little Women Whitman Publication abridged version coverIn fact, as I look back now, it seems my literary heroines had a very real, if unconscious, influence on the trajectory of my own life. Discounting all the other life experiences that have shaped my character and dreams, I believe I still owe a lot to the characters I admired so much when I was younger.

Anne and Jo were studious, adventurous, determined, and compassionate—traits that I admire and have sought to reproduce (successfully, I hope) in my own life.

Anne and Jo both became teachers and writers. I, too, am a teacher who holds on to her writing ambitions.

Perhaps what we read and the characters we love affect us more than we realize.

“I like adventures, and I’m going to find some.” Jo March

What literary heroes and heroines have impacted your life?


  1. Dang. Your ten-year-old self is more eloquent than I ever was at that age! I believe around that time I was engrossed in writing about talking toucans and hedgehogs. Needless to say, my subjects have...evolved. :P

    I didn't grow up reading about Anne and Jo, unfortunately. Rather, I watched them, on my grandma's VHS tapes of the CBC Anne mini-series and the 90s Little Women film. They were spunkily entertaining enough, as I remember--special mention goes to the "Lady of Shalott" boat scene and Jo's stomping mannishly around proclaiming stage lines. :) With regard to books...the only relatable characters coming to mind are the grade-A student Hermione Granger and the wisecracking "girl detectives" Casey Smith (of the "Girl Reporter" series) and Sammy Keyes (from Wendelin Van Draanen's series of the same name). I always wished I could be as devilishly funny and intrepid as them.

    --Amanda R.

    1. But talking animals are awesome! :)

      I watched the Anne series and Little Women film too :) They also hold a special place in my heart haha. Unfortunately I never read the Girl Reporter or Sammy Keyes books, but after looking them up, they sound like characters I would have appreciated.

  2. As the other half (and then third) of our little Story Club, I can attest that your stories were imaginative, adventure-filled, hopelessly romantic and occasionally brutal (you racked up a quite impressive head count over the years!). Everything a good yarn should be. ;)

    I, too, loved Jo! She was independent, imperfect and imaginative. She was way ahead of her time in terms of subverting gender norms, and not ending up with the guy she loved wasn't the end of the world. I've since been attracted to odd-one-out characters in books, film, TV, manga and video games, too. Sally and Gillian Owens, the outcast witch sisters from Alice Hoffman's Practical Magic, were favourites during my early teens. At the moment I'm really relating to the two Nanas from Nana by Ai Yazawa, despite their clashing personalities. I think you might enjoy that series, too, Lynny - the main character initially comes off as foolish and weak, but she's actually quite layered and sympathetic.

    1. Well, I have to say that your own wonderful stories were an inspiration to me over the years haha. I still love your writing! ^_^

      It's interesting how we seem to be drawn to characters that are very similar to us. As has been said, "We read to know we are not alone." I've looked up the Nana series, and it does seem like something I'd enjoy, so I'll have to see if I can find it here :)

  3. Good post. I like it :) You really were such a melodramatic rebel in the olden days haha


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