So if you’ll indulge me, I’d like to talk for a few minutes about what I’m trying to do with the main novel in my series, and why it terrifies me.
Most fantasy with a Big Bad and a Chosen One tends to get a lot of its conflict by the fact that the CO refuses the call to destiny. It’s a formula that works, so it gets used a lot. And I still remember the exact moment when I decided MY Chosen One wasn’t going to pull that shit – it was when I was reading The Dragon Reborn, and Rand literally ran away instead of sucking it up and doing his job. And then he spent basically the rest of the series being all “Woe is me! I am cursed!” and similar.
And the same thing pretty much happened with Buffy, where she just absolutely hates what she is and takes a very long time to come to terms with it, and is always pretty emo about the whole thing.
So fuck that trope. I’m not using it. I have got a Chosen One, and when she figures out she’s the CO, she’s not running from it so much as to it. “You need me to save the universe? I’ll pencil you in for Tuesday.” She’s all about this, because while it’s a terrifying huge responsibility, she’s just grateful that she’s got some measure of control over what happens, that she doesn’t have to sit on the sidelines and hope like fuck that the CO doesn’t fail. She’s very much an action person, and a bit of a control freak.
And she fucking loves this job. Not every part of it, of course. Some of it sucks rancid shark carcass. But for the most part, she enjoys the hell out of it. Best thing ever, to her.
And it’s not like she was running from a bad situation. She loved her previous job. She sacrificed a lot for that job and didn’t want to leave it. But when she was called, she didn’t hesitate. She left it behind.
Okay, so she refused one call – before anybody knew what she was, but knew she’d be a good person to have on their side, and begged her to join up, she was all, “Nah, doing important shit over here, you guys have got this.” And then she saw they really kinda didn’t, and she saw that they were all waiting for a Chosen One who hadn’t bothered to show up, and after a bit she was all, “Fuck this. If she’s not coming, I’ll do the damned job.” She chose to become the Chosen One, and was mightily shocked to find out she’d actually been groomed for that role from birth. Because, you see, the original Chosen One had fucked up beyond all belief, and had to be destroyed, and she ended up being the best possible replacement. But the people who groomed her knew it was important for her to come to it on her own terms, as an outsider, because what had sabotaged the original CO was being so much on the inside that she couldn’t take a vitally necessary risk.
So the tension is really going to come from her being such an outsider, from not knowing so much that she needs to know, from being just a human (a very clever one, and well-trained, but just a human regardless). It will come from her never being certain this is going to work, just certain they have to try. There will be people who question her legitimacy, and others who outright deny it, because she isn’t who they were expecting. But she does not for a moment put that duty down. She doesn’t for an instant do the “Woe is me!” shtick. She is not that kind of person.
And, of course, there will be people who think she’s arrogant for believing she can do this, because how dare a woman (or a mere human) think she could ever be good enough?
It’s really hard, abandoning the trope of the reluctant hero. See, I know the trope works. I don’t know if having an enthusiastic Chosen One will work at all. But, like her, I just know I have to try.