Diana is, without question, the most challenging character to write in all of EXTRA/NORMAL.
Mio? Easy. She comes from a place of mostly personal familiarity. The one major differing factor is that she’s… well… a she. But aside from this, a lot of how she functions is inspired by first-hand experience.
Ragyou and Charlotte both have a chance of becoming equally as difficult to write, but they haven’t had enough individual spotlight time yet for their nuances to begin coming out. Even when they do, however, I don’t really expect Ragyou to be all that challenging. And I believe that comes not from them being nuanced, but rather the nature of those nuances.
By now, if you’re current on the story, then you know the nature of what’s happening on some level. A city-wide battle royale featuring psychic abilities using Stand-like beings called “Familiars.” My flair for shounen battle anime guides the bulk of the action writing. But the dramatic writing is where I frankly spend most of my time. And that’s not unintentional. EXTRA/NORMAL is a drama series first and an action series a distant second. The characters and their internal mechanisms are the things I emphasize the most. And, in recent chapters, that is no more apparent than with the character of Diana.
However, narrative is narrative. And narratively speaking, a character like Diana is really complicated. Because… well… she’s not an easy person to like. In fairness, that’s on purpose. She isn’t supposed to be. She’s kind of awful. But the balancing act is making sure people don’t hate her. It’s easier said than done when she is – and I say this without a hint of hyperbole – a bully. Period. Full-Stop.
Obviously, wishing to see her just get yeeted from the royale is not what I want from the audience. Frankly, that’d make her whole character’s role in the story decidedly moot. At the same time, though, the goal, for me, isn’t really to make people like her either. That’s just not in the cards, at least not for now. Unless you’re just appreciating my attempts at bringing her complexities to life. But that’s admiring the writing of the character, more so than the actual character herself.
What I’m challenging myself to do is make her intriguing. It’s all that’s left, in lieu of making her likable. That or making her so over-the-top hatable that she becomes downright entertaining, a la DIO. But that wouldn’t work with this more grounded and emotionally mature series. It also wouldn’t fit because… well… Diana isn’t a Heel. She’s not a villain. She’s just a fairly unpleasant person. She’s still a protagonist, though. If she’s an actual antagonist to anyone, it’s only herself.
So how to tackle a character like her? Making her more intriguing and inspiring curiosity about her is something I personally aim for. What I try to do is leave enough things ambiguous that one questions why she behaves in the way she does, while stating some things outright and implying other things with varying levels of subtlety. Charlotte, in all honesty, will very likely meet similar hurdles later on, as she begins to get more of the spotlight and Ragyou… is frankly Best Girl. But we’re not talking about them today.
For as tough as Diana is to write, she’s also my favorite character to write, so far. Because she allows me to write so many different types of scenes. Her emotional and intellectual range makes her flexible in a way that, at present, the other characters aren’t. So I only hope I’m doing a good enough job of conveying that with how I’ve written her so far. There’s plenty more of her to come as this arc delves further into what makes her tick. There’s so much more to learn about her so I hope you guys enjoy the rest of this arc and future ones revolving around everyone’s least favorite Queen Bee.
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