I want to talk a bit about Millie in Dysontopia because we will not be seeing her again for a little while. She’s an important character for sure, and I very much needed to introduce her early in order to add a stabilizing element to Sydney’s life. Yet, we also need to see Sydney’s chronic predicament of being alone begin development fairly quickly into the piece.
When I started writing Sydney, I had every intention of making her complete chaos, with intentions and motivations that are all over the map. Is she good? Is she bad? Even I don’t know, and I’m the one with relatively detailed plan for her character arc. That’s often what it’s like to struggle with mental illness – it creeps up inside you and tears you apart from the inside out. One thing’s for sure: she is a human being with all the instability pertaining within such a classification.
When I started crafting Millie, however, I had completely different intentions. Here is a character designed from the ground up to be pure good. Motherly, dedicated, and determined in her desire to bestow positive results even to the people she doesn’t like, Millie would make the perfect protagonist in a developed Hero’s Journey story. It’s almost as if, through her backstory, she’s already experienced a complete adventure of her own – call to task, crossing the threshold, transformation, atonement, and return.
This is why I feel it’s uncommon to put a character like Millie in the primary supporting character slot, rather than the main protagonist or the wise mentor role. She has the perfect skill-set to keep Sydney grounded when she flies off the handle, which let’s be honest, is going to happen a lot. We also get to explore the dichotomy of Sydney functioning with access to a strong stabilizing force. This, then, can be contrasted with situations involving a lack of support or influence from someone more chaotic. The ultimate point of these character interactions is to explore the gamut of how an individual with untreated mental issues assimilates the interactions of shaping forces.
Put as simply as I can, Millie is the primary supporting character and Sydney is the main protagonist because, I feel, the vast majority of us relate far closer to the mindset of Sydney. And yet, we almost all have a person or people in our lives we see as purely admirable and noble – a Millie-type.
Related, we get to see how Millie’s seams slowly crack as she voluntarily takes on the full force of Sydney’s emotional difficulties. The reality is that a person like Millie is highly prone to “bear someone’s burden” – don’t misunderstand, that’s a very admirable quality. People like Millie are tough as nails emotionally, but even the toughest person is not invincible. Therefore, it will be interesting to see the result of Millie’s inherent goodness tested beyond her point of comfort.
Please understand, I don’t completely know what’s going to happen to Millie and Sydney. I have an idea, but in many ways I’m going on this journey with you.
Tracking back to real life, I feel like many of us have people in our life that are inherently good. A beacon of honorable living – perhaps, or perhaps not, to a fault. I can think of one in particular in my life right now. Do you have a Millie in your life? If so, in the comments, describe one of those people in your life, and how they’ve made you a better person.