Monday, September 20, 2010

Why I Think We're Too Hard on Our Heroines

This past week and weekend has been my own personal hell. I had a test on Tuesday and a test earlier today, both of which required me to study. So, in spite of the fact that my word count on my WIP was trundling along nicely, I had to stop around Saturday and pretend to study because I felt way too guilty writing.

Over this dreadful past week I contemplated many things (like why am I a finance major? am I a masochist? or just stupid, and my teachers are too nice to tell me?). One of these things was, of course, about YA books.

I'm going to give it to you straight, gentle reader: I am an exceptionally picky person. I hate lots of people for lots of trivial things, and it only gets worse when it comes to fiction.

However, I do think that we are a little hard on our heroines from time to time.

There are a lot of demands on an author who's writing a teen girl these days. The girl has to be independent, but not unbelievable. She needs to be witty, but not so sassy she's annoying. Being too upbeat isn't realistic, but being a downer all the time isn't okay either. She needs to be completely whole without a man, but have many hot smooches.

Basically, you're screwed, authors.

The problem is that real girls do have flaws, and while people talk about needing a heroine to be flawed, there are certain flaws the YA community is awfully hesitant to accept: being whiny, being helpless in the face of lots of danger, and being dependent on a guy for validation. All three of which are EXTREMELY realistic flaws.

That's why it didn't bother me that the whole of Bella's self worth centered around whether or not Edward liked her. Because guess what, this is precisely what teenage - and let's face it, older - girls do. They fixate on a guy and obsess about him until their brain dribbles out their ears. While it isn't the most desirable state of being, it's not an unrealistic one and I didn't have a problem seeing it in a book.

No, Bella bothered me because she was boring.

So, authors of the world, here is my opinion: I don't care what flaws your character has, who she's codependent on, or what validation she needs. If she's interesting and 3-dimensional, I will read about her. If she's interesting and doesn't pay the slightest attention to guys, I will still read about her, but I'll be awfully skeptical. Because I don't care if you're a werewolf assassin from a future dystopian society; if you're 15 and have the giggles for that cute leprechaun glassblower, you are going to be 100% fixated on that.


People have been talking a lot about banned books, especially because some supervillain wannabe (seriously, Wesley Scroggins? You belong at Lex Luthor and Sauron's tea party) has been trying to ban Speak.

Banning books is sort of like banning the third-floor corridor(if you get that, give yourself a big nerd cookie). As soon as you say NAY THY SHALL NOT READ, a bunch of people who otherwise would have completely ignored its existence say YAY I HAVE NEVER READ IT BUT NOW I MUST.

In this particular instance, I think the implication that rape = porn is much more disturbing. Rape is not about sex. Rape is about power. Rape has nothing to do with how pretty you are, or what kind of short skirts you wear. These are all horrible, uninformed views that lead to victim shaming.

People like Wesley Scroggins are the reason Melinda Sordino (and countless other real teens) are afraid to speak.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Road Trip Wednesday

If you could travel back to any historical era for research purposes, which would you choose?

Okay, this one's kind of cheating for me. Anybody who knows me well can answer this for me: I'd go back to Macedon circa 330 BC, as Alexander the Great conquered the known world.

I have a huge Alexander the Great obsession; I wrote my thesis on him for high school. Everything about his reign was epic and groundbreaking, from his religious and cultural tolerance to his military genius.


So yeah. I'm a huge history junkie, so there's tons of other places I'd love to visit. Elizabethan England when Francis Drake conquered the Spanish Armada. Jamestown, when the colonists eked out a living from hostile land. Rome under Vespasian, a strange mix of savagery and civilization. The Meiji period in Japan, when Japan lost its innocence and leaped forward several centuries in 45 years.

But I'd visit 330 BC Macedon all for one person. Now that's the kind of thing novels are based around!

Friday, September 10, 2010

The Writing Process

Here is a sampling of a day in the life.

6:00pm - Realize I've written nothing all day.
6:05pm - Find Cinderella II A Stitch in Time on youtube.
6:15pm - Get tired of hearing Cinderelly sing about how awesome her life is and write 200 words.
6:30 - Watch Evil Stepmother get the magic wand and think that if Cinderella had just gotten the bluebirds to pluck her eyes out this never would have happened.
6:34 - Get embarrassed that I'm watching Cinderella II and pound out another 500 words.
6:50 - Recover from embarrassment. See Cinderella sneak off to the palace and think that this never would've happened in the original because it requires doing something. Decide I like Disney sequels.
6:55 - Hear another song composed by rabid squirrels and an organ monkey and decide otherwise.
6:57 - Write 1,000 words to avoid thinking about how my life has come to this.

So there you have it. That's my writing process (sub in other Disney sequels, the Twilight movies, L.A. Ink, or anything else bad/dramatic). What's yours?

Saturday, September 4, 2010

Writing Jealousy

Oh sweet goodness I haven't posted since April. Just smack me in the face now; go ahead.

There are lots of semi-good reasons; tests, full time internship, etc, but oh well. This summer was not the best one writing-wise; I've written more this week than I did the whole summer. And, well, let's not get into how much I've written this week.

It's weird; when I write I love reading writing blogs and I follow author's twitter accounts like the stock market. But when I'm not writing, I can't stand to read any of it. I guess when I don't write, I feel jealous of everyone else who is writing. Is that normal? Does anyone else do this? Tell me about your writing jealousy!