Sunday, December 4, 2011

Author Etiquette Rule 3

Well, hello all.  I hope you're enjoying this fine Sunday.  I am, as I sit curled on my parent's couch in front of the fire, New Baby slumbering in his chair at my feet.  It is a glorious and sunny day, but freezing, so I'm happy to be inside.  After this, I'll be working on Christmas presents, but I hope to get in some writing today (possibly tonight) so I can bump my sad little word count for Aeris, up past the 134,000 count.  December is a busy month for me, but I'm hoping to finish up Luka's story line at least and then head into Zyander's.  Zyander requires the most rewrites, so I'll have to go back and do some rewriting before I finish out his story, to reflect the changes I talked over with my sister.  And now, on to my entry!

We're switching it up a little this time, any instead of talking about how authors present themselves with their marketing endeavors, let's chat for a minute about how we present ourselves with our writing.  Setting aside the very real need for proofing and proper English, let's instead consider the characters and the stories.  I hadn't intended to talk about this for a while, but it's something that IS on my mind, as a writer and more importantly, a READER.  Then, one of my favorite reviewers, Kat Kennedy, wrote an entry on it, and I just couldn't help myself.

Here is the link:

Essentially, the gist is this:  authors, please consider your overworked stereotypes.  I agree with this premise, but move it to a more blunt statement.  Authors, please don't consider your readers to be stupid.  Sure, we see the "Are you Smarter than a Fifth Grader?" moments in the media, where we all start to think that humans have gone backward in development and we all watch TV waaaaaaay too much.  But despite the reading world's love of Twilight, we are still smarter than the average bear.

For instance, one of my LEAST favorite archetypes for women is not the slut or the evil female.  Mine is the Damaged Loner.  We've all seen her in a cop show, usually one that has a woman as its main character.  Here is her story:  Someone was killed in her past, leaving her bruised and grieving.  Swearing revenge, she focuses her entire life on become a part of the system that will bring justice in such situations.  She could be a cop or investigator of some sort, but the outcome is still the same.  She is emotionally stunted, unable to have a single healthy relationship, she works WAY too much and has no life outside of what she does for a living.  There are a string of men, needy and gentle, who fall for her, but she breaks them one by one in her endless need to prove that she has what it takes.

I can name a dozen TV shows and books that feature this character and let me tell you, I am SICK TO DEATH of her.  Gimme a break, writers of the world.  Switch it up, will ya?  Give her a family, a husband that she loves, or make her seem human somehow.  Just stop expecting me to stand by and watch while she destroys her life piece by piece.  Boring.  And let me just say, as a reader, I'm smart enough to get that this is LAZY writing.

Here's another that I can't stand, though it's not a character, but merely a plot point that is so popular in YA fiction: The Love Triangle.  GAG.  I understand that putting some difficulties in the way of the main character's love story helps keep the drama alive for those teenage readers, but really, how fun is it to read about two really likeable characters where one of them gets their heart broken?  Apparently, barrels of fun, since almost every YA book features a deliciously tragic love triangle.

Hmm... this is turning into a reader rant. hahaha  Just consider who your characters are and what they accomplish.  If anything is possible in writing, then why not pretend that there is a world where gender has nothing to do with anything?

I'm not saying you have to go that far, my dear authors, but at least, as Kat says, consider changing them once in a while.

Happy Reading!


Anonymous said...

You're not tired of stereotypes are you? hehe. I can see what you mean though. It does get a little tired. Only we can change it.

DarkWyvern said...

lol I know what you mean about the Loner Cop character. I was trying to work out what was bugging me about some of my favourite TV shows in general, but you've hit the nail right on the head. As for love triangles, I think they can work well if handled properly and as long as they are not there simply for the sake of providing teen angst/conflict etc, but unfortunately many of today's YA writers seem to have neen taught that if they don't have a love triangle, their book will be Bad and No One Will Buy It lol Good luck with the rewrites!

alberta ross said...

yes yes yes - love triangles ugh! - damaged I can accept but I think its so much more interesting to see them cope - get a life - turn things around from the damage - firm believer in the concept that we have free will!!!!

all the best for this week

Claudia Lefeve said...

Great post! And I agree wholeheartedly with your post! (FYI: that's why I made Alex not so great in Parallel..didn't want a love triangle on my hands!).

Nadja Notariani said...

This is too funny! (well, witty I suppose is a better word)
I said once that if I never read again about a female cop/investigator/FBI-Special agent, archeologist, or doctor again, it will be too soon!

Although, I cannot deny that there are a few stereotypes/story types I seem never to tire of. Highlanders. Ack! I know, I know, I's a sickness. Ha! Give me a strapping Scot (to read about anyway...) any day.
I'm also a goner when it comes to stories set during the Ottoman Empire. I should be over it. But I'm

Do you have a particular story type that pulls you in again and again?...(not that I haven't read some really, really bad Highlander stories...but I keep trying them again.)

Kate said...

@Ryan: Agreed. It is up to the authors of the world to make the change!

@Rebecca: I'm with you, I just don't understand why some YA writers feel the need to include love triangles. It's like there's an unwritten rule I don't know about.

@Alberta: I keep waiting for them to get a life, too! If you're going to have a loner, help them to move past it or something. That's just my take.

@Claudia: Believe me, I sooo appreciated that you didn't have a love triangle, although I don't technically consider Sawyer a love interest in the traditional sense either. I think that's why I liked your book so much. It was so different than most.

@Nadja: What a great question! To be addressed in my next entry!