Whenever I write her, I take a moment to consider why she reacts a certain way and how it is tied to who she is as a person. I recall the words of Rachel Dawes from Batman Begins, “It’s not who you are underneath. It’s what you do that defines you.” To me, that means that it doesn’t matter who I think Jordan is deep down. Her actions and her words have to prove what lies beneath. I link up the two ideas to see if they match up. Who is Jordan Amador? What do her actions say about her? Sure, she’s prickly but she still fights for the good guys and she still believes in Michael no matter how she feels about him. Her personality and her morals should be what guide the story from start to finish, and I believe that it should feel natural to the reader instead of contrived or forced. Many successful writers advise to write from the character outward, and this is something I tried to adopt when I wrote The Black Parade. I began with Jordan and build the world around her and filled it with our supporting cast and our villains.
The biggest struggle I had with writing The Black Parade came in the third act where Jordan and Michael’s relationship comes to a point where they have to make a decision. Their friendship has been running parallel to some pretty strong romantic feelings, and while they have plenty of reasons why they shouldn’t be together, it’s not something they can both put off indefinitely. By that time in the novel, Jordan’s been with Michael long enough to get a full perspective of who he is as a man and as an angel. She has to decide how to react to him and how she feels about him, and all of that is wrapped up in her past. She had once been in a long term relationship that went nuclear after she became a Seer and she doesn’t want to give up having a best friend for the first time in her life.
At the end of the day, it’s not our job as writers to make the readers happy, but rather to write something that is worthy of their time. First and foremost, I want the character development to feel natural and while the reader might disagree with decisions the characters make, if they can still understand why they acted a certain way, then mission accomplished. I also believe in permanent changes that cannot be easily reversed, because otherwise it can seem like you’re chickening out of a character’s arc. Their actions should be consistent with their personality and their beliefs, but that’s harder than it sounds when you’re also balancing an entire plot on their shoulders. Often, I’ve written a scene that made logical sense, but I had to scrap it because it was out of character.
My advice to other writers would be to simply tell the truth. Whatever is true for your characters—no matter how disturbing or absurd—should be what’s on your pages. Go with your gut. Don’t be so caught up with making something happen that you lose the integrity of the story. You can’t write it wrong if you’re writing what’s true for your characters and their desires.