Words Wednesday is a column where I share whatever quote I’m most in love with this week in the hopes that it will make both of us better writers. Whether it be from a blog, a movie, or a book that everyone else read in 2014 and I finally got around to reading, these words rocked me emotionally and I want them to inspire you too.


Today’s quote is one that I saved because I have a longer idea coming. I have a post in progress that I’ve been working on for some time (and, let’s be honest, trying to pitch to get published elsewhere) and then I started reading Bad Feminist and I came across this quote and nearly screamed with delight because it was the exact same thing I was trying to say, only different. So not really the exact same thing, but so close that I could use it in my article without it looking like I took the whole idea from Gay. Because I didn’t take the idea from her, it’s just a happy coincidence.

“I want characters to do the things I am afraid to do for fear of making myself more unlikeable than I may already by”

Roxane Gay, Bad Feminist

Like I said, I was writing a whole piece about this in a specific context, so I’m going to talk about the other context where I agree with this quote. I love reading psychological thrillers where the main character is a very broken, very damaged woman. There is nothing in the world that draws me into the story faster than when someone is slightly more mentally ill than me, and then proceeds to act in deranged ways that are not related to this mental illness, but everyone in the world thinks they are. I love when characters act in ways that are worse than me, but more than that I love when they are like me when they do it.

When I read The Guest List, I loved that the plus one (I forget her name) completely ditched the party and didn’t act like the perfect plus one letting her husband do whatever he wanted. I would never behave like this, but I love the way she does. I love getting to live those actions that I would think about doing but never actually end up doing. That’s part of what makes literature so great. I love a messy protagonist. I love a protagonist that has relatable underlying qualities but then you add something else to the mix to make them wholly different from who I am.

I don’t want to be unlikeable, but I want my protagonists to be.