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Thoughts on Writing – Literary Doppelgangers

You know those times when you’re writing a story, and you think you’ve finally created a character that’s at least a little bit different… and then you find their literary doppelganger?

That character which just seems far closer than you would have liked?

While watching Jessica Jones (which is an awesome show, by the way), one of the things that struck me and Isaac was the similarities between the villain of the show, Killgrave, and Brainmaster, the villain of our story, Distant Horizon.

They’re definitely different, but they do have some striking similarities (except that Killgrave is just so much more evil… An absolutely fascinating character, but evil). Note: I have only seen the show, so I’m not sure how he compares from the comics.

First, let’s take a look at Killgrave.

Killgrave has mind control powers. He can walk up to a person, tell them to do something, and they’ll do it. His powers have a time limit (12 hours), and a limited range. He’s obsessed with Jessica Jones, trying to win her back after she finally managed to escape his grasp. He doesn’t mind leaving behind a body count just to get Jessica to move in closer as she tries to stop him. (But he doesn’t do the dirty work. No. He comes up with creative ways for other people to kill each other or themselves… and leaves an even bigger mess for Jessica to clean up).

Also, he wears a purple suit. Kind of his style.

Now, let’s take a look at Brainmaster, from the story Isaac and I are working on.

Brainmaster has telepathy, which, in our story, equates to three possible options… mind reading, mind control, or communication via thought. Powerful characters can do all three. We see her doing all three of these things, but one of her trademark moves is taking control of characters by implanting suggestions in their brains… some of which cause them to attack others or themselves.

And she wears purple robes.

(This is where I was cringing watching Jessica Jones. Killgrave, also a mind controller, has a purple suit. I’d never even heard of his character (at least, not other than a single cartoon episode of X-Men with a very different version of him) until a few weeks ago.

These characters are different, but they do have similarities. Both have mind control powers. Both haunt the main characters (Jessica has traumatic flashbacks of Killgrave, Jenna has traumatic memories that Brainmaster plants in her head), and both wear purple. Maybe it’s because of the idea that the color purple often reflects royalty and power. (There’s an interesting web page about the historical uses of the color purple here).

For characters who are meant to be powerful, it makes sense to have them wearing purple.

Anyway, I thought it would be fun to post a short scene from Distant Horizon, one where we get to see Brainmaster for the first time.

Note: This scene has been truncated to minimize spoilers.

I pushed the door open.

Inside, a lady wearing a flowing, deep purple robe stood at the end of a long metal table. Her robes were fringed by golden swirls and thick, bold lining. Part of her white hair was rolled into an elaborate bun; the rest cascaded to her shoulders.

The lady’s eyes narrowed and her face contorted into wrinkles. She wore just enough eyeliner to accentuate her fierce eyes, and her nails were painted a gold that matched her outfit. More than most leaders, she was dressed for appearance.

Beside her, an elderly woman with graying hair was bound to the chair. Her shoulders were slumped and her head lolled back.

Go away.

I jumped. I hadn’t heard anything, but it was clear that the woman standing with her manicured hand on the corner of the woman’s chair had spoken. She lifted her chin and scowled.

“Let her go.” I tightened my grip on my spear.

Brainmaster smirked and slid her nail along the edge of the chair. Something forced me– my mind– away.

I couldn’t move. My arms were frozen in place.

She smiled and brushed back a wisp of white hair. Drop the spear. Close the door behind you. Take a seat. She gestured to the chair, a slow, elegant motion.

I dropped the spear, took a seat. Listened.

A slow smile crawled across her cheeks. She gestured to the woman in the chair. “The true plague is disobedience. It makes our society inefficient. This woman is a traitor. She spreads the plague by her presence. She’s a lost cause. Kill her.”

I stood, vines uncoiling from my arms, and walked the length of the table. Power pulsed through my vines, urging me to take control. To let them flourish. To use them.

The traitor turned her head, her eyes half-shut.

“She’s the true monster,” Brainmaster murmured. “A threat to everything we hold dear.”

I wrapped my vines around the woman’s throat. Felt their pressure against her skin. Closed them tight. The woman coughed, gasping, but I didn’t let go.

Funny thing, Nickleson. Do you ever wonder how a beast feels when it’s given orders? Is this what you want?

I stared at the dying woman, confused.

A beast is such a mindless thing. You could be so much more.

The woman sputtered and fell limp. Her head lolled.

A chill clawed through my spine.

She was dead.

I’d killed her.

And that’s where I’m going to leave that scene…


Brainmaster. Yeah, she likes messing with people’s minds. Maybe that’s why I enjoyed watching Killgrave’s character so much.

Anyway, I hope you enjoyed this post. 🙂 Have you ever written a character, then found their literary doppelganger?



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