Over the years I've had my fair share of stubborn characters. I've had characters that were irritatingly stubborn with their peers but also characters who were purely stubborn with me. Occasionally, most frustratingly, I have one that refuses to cooperate with anyone, me especially. Mary from Secrets Clad in Light was particularly stubborn with me, refusing to cooperate whatsoever, and although she had stubborn streaks within the novel she seemed almost agreeable there when compared to the run-around that she gave me.
It seems there's always a competition between my characters for the one that is most difficult and stubborn to work with and in my latest novel, Butterfly, young Zack became triumphant.
I almost don't even know where to begin with him. It was required for him to be a little stubborn and, knowing what I did about his background when I first started writing him, it was perfectly understandable also. For a while it was tolerable because it served the story in the way I had imagined but no matter how long I wrote him, or what point in the story we were in, some way or another he was always fighting something.
In his defence, I would say that if anyone had any reason to fight it would be him. Zack endured a lot in his childhood and from the beginning it is easy to tell that, as much as he acted like things were fine and he was in control, he was someone with turmoil in his head, someone with shattered trust that left shards around a heart that had endured irreparable damage. Zack was the most resilient when it came to the changes that were forced upon him at the start of the book because he had somewhat gotten used to the misery he was living and he had created all the necessary defences inside himself to cope with them as much as possible. He wasn't ready to let those defences down and he certainly knew what letting them down meant; it would give people the chance to get close to him, hurt him, and leave.
Zack was not only stubborn when confronted but also when he was the one doing the confronting. When he sensed that something was wrong with Alex and that the person he was closest to was suffering silently he was very strong and adamant in his approach and he would not give up. While previously his attempts were to protect himself from further pain, this time his stubbornness was used to protect the only person that he ever felt was worth caring for. He wasn't going to give up on someone he loved do deeply, though never would he have accepted the same type of response from the other either. There are a few things that Zack finds worth protecting; those things take all his determination and strength, especially if it means persisting the way he does with Alex.
With me, I suppose Zack's stubbornness was also well-founded; he refused to do things he wasn't ready to do and at times that halted what I had planned for him. However, it made way for more interesting, sometimes heart-breaking, moments as everyone struggled to get through to him and as Zack broke slowly but surely...
A small taste of Zack's resilience...
Ellis turned him around harshly, looking him deep in his eyes. He wasn’t fine now and he wasn’t going to be fine later. “You know that this is more than you can handle by yourself.”
“That’s not true.”
"You're worried about yourself and you're worried about how you're going to take care of Alex with this. Why are you fighting us when you know we can help with both?” Zack held firmly onto the windowsill, his body beginning to shake from repressed sobs. Ellis reached out and touched his back gently, "It's alright to be scared and worried, Zack; you're human."
He turned the boy around slowly and pulled him closer, taking small subtle steps to close the last of the distance. "No," Zack began pushing him away, his strength wavering, "stop."
"Zack, it's alright to be scared."
“I’m not scared!!” He shouted out and with that went his remaining strength; he collapsed into Ellis’ waiting arms.