Making a “Flandre”

{Preface:  A comment I wrote on a board I once frequented and wrote stories on.  “Flandre” is a character from the Touhou Project video game series.  The comment was written in response to another poster asking about the proper way to write Flandre.  I put a fair amount of time into this, hence why I’m calling it my daily today.}

On the extreme ends of the sliding scale of Flandre, you have “naïve cute little sister that accidentally breaks things” Flandre, and “short fuse no restraint batshit crazy monster” Flandre.  Somewhere in the middle you also have “quirky and random yet somehow endearing” Flandre, and “creepy unsettling impending doom with a smile” Flandre.  A good Flandre will borrow from all parts of the spectrum, because a good character is complex, with both virtues and flaws, and will react differently to different situations.  A one-note “adorable” or “tragic” or “evil” Flandre is good for quick emotion, like a single picture or a 4koma, but for a longer story she can get stale and predictable pretty fast.

The most important thing about Flandre in my opinion is that she’s mentally unstable.  Now “mentally unstable” doesn’t mean she can’t control her actions or that she does things at random; what it means is that she does not always do things that make sense to other people.  She won’t react to things in the way a “normal” person might react to them, and she won’t say things that will tend to benefit a “normal” conversation.  However, correcting her is difficult, because what she does makes sense to her at the time; an insane person cannot comprehend their own level of sanity because the tool they require to comprehend it—their brain—is broken.  There should always be some sort of twisted logic driving her actions that on paper makes a sort of sense, even if it makes none in practice.  Remember, when something is broken, that doesn’t mean it doesn’t work at all, it just means that it doesn’t fulfill its normal function as intended.

Holding the hand of importance to her sanity is her latent destructive potential, which should never be ignored no matter what the story or where in the story you are.  A normal insane person is troublesome to deal with and a danger to themselves, but rarely a danger to others if simple precautions are taken.  Conversely, Flandre is constantly a danger to others and no precautions against her are foolproof.  This is why she’s locked in the basement:  not to eliminate collateral damage, but simply to minimize it.  This facet of Flandre affects the people around her more than it affects herself.  Stories with Flandre in them will inevitably have her interacting closely with other characters, creating a constant threat of collateral damage and any number of random variables, which her unstable mind could interpret unfavorably.  All characters that know her should always keep in the backs of their minds that she is unsafe, no matter how much she loves them, and they should treat her with care. Think of it this way:  a responsible person is instructed to always treat a gun as if it’s loaded and might accidentally fire, regardless of circumstance.  Characters that do not know her should not be exempt from consequence if they act foolishly around her, nor should they be automatically punished if they do so.  Again, using the loaded gun metaphor, an untrained person does not know that they should give a gun special reverence; they don’t know the damage it could cause at the slightest touch, and thus are more prone to handling it roughly or “playing” with it when it’s not a toy.

When writing Flandre, you should remember that you’re writing a story, not depicting real life.  When dealing with characters who do not act logically, their personality is not a justification for haphazard writing, and it’s easy for writers to fall into this trap and degrade the quality of their story unintentionally.  How you decide to characterize your Flandre should benefit the story you are trying to tell, and you should not make her do random or dangerous things simply “because she can” if it does not advance the plot or develop characters.

And of course, remember that canon is fuzzy, and purposely so.  They may be ZUN’s characters, but it’s your story, and he doesn’t much mind what you do with them.  Feel free to break some rules and try new ideas if you feel it fits your vision of the character better!


One thought on “Making a “Flandre”

  1. Flandre characterizations that feel 100% right to me are hard to come by– although I’m extremely biased for a number of reasons. (That does not, however, prevent me from still enjoying stories with Flandres I don’t like that much. Usually.)

    I was actually considering writing a cyoa from Flandre’s view, but I got stolen away by an original story of mine. Good luck to those out there willing to partake in the challenge.

    I hope the person who received this advice– or anybody writing Flandre, for that matter– finds it helpful.

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