Wednesday, 11 February 2015

Dear Authors, // A Letter to...

Wednesday, 11 February 2015
'A Letter to...' is a feature here on the blog in which I address a post to someone or something that I want to share with my readers. It could be an influential book, a person/author whom I look up to or just something that popped into my mind.

Dear Authors,

Please write realistic characters. I'm tired of reading about the same 'perfect' characters over and over again. I don't want to read about people who never act on impulse or whose first instinct is to always help other people. I certainly don't want to read about people who have less personality than a cardboard box. Make them interesting, make them real.

Please note that this is aimed at primarily YA novels as I rarely delve into the world of Adult

You see, I've read a lot of books and I think a good majority of them are probably paranormal since I went through a 'paranormal only' phase when I was a mere child (mere child = twelve/thirteen. It was a rough time) and a lot of these books feel like they write about the same characters over and over. I'm not telling you how to write your characters. If you want to write about someone with the same behaviour and back story as every Tom, Dick and Harry with a new name, hairstyle and even more tragic past then go right ahead, I'm not going to stop you but I'm not going to love it either.

There are a few things I've come across that I wanted to write about in this post and I'm afraid that if I don't make bullet points then I'll continue rambling and that won't make any of us very happy.

What is with this 'love of my life' bullshit? If your novel is Young Adult then I'm assuming you're writing about teenagers and a lot of these teenagers are usually 16 to 18 which is why I get very confused when the love interest seems to be written like the person this teenager will marry. It seriously baffles me. Not to even mention when the love interest is the first person they've ever actually dated (which - in books - is more common than it sounds). I'm assuming that it's all adults writing these books because as a teenager myself I've never actually met or heard about any other teenager falling completely head over heels in love with the first male species who pays some romantic attention to them. It just doesn't happen. And if they do fall in love with them then they sure as hell aren't the only person they'll ever fall in love with. Teenage love is fleeting, it isn't any less real, but they rarely go on to spend the rest of their lives with the first guy they date. Write real teenagers.

Teenagers DO swear. People DO swear. This one isn't a huge deal but it is something that really bothers me. I love it when there are swear words in a book. I love it even more when it's a teenager doing the swearing. It doesn't have to be a huge deal but swearing is a part of our everyday vocabulary whether you want to admit it or not. A cut on a finger: 'Shit'. Joking: 'Fuck off'. Angry: 'Asshole'. It isn't necessary to add swearing to your book if you don't want to or if it doesn't add anything extra but if it's a dystopian world and families are getting killed and hurt swearing just makes it all a little more real.

Impulsive decisions. AKA Katniss Everdeen. Nothing infuriates me more than a character doing exactly what their family/peers tells them not to do. But just because it's infuriating doesn't mean it doesn't make everything a little better in my eyes. I like a little bit of impulsive action. Cold, calculated moves don't really float my boat and hell if something is going wrong or if someone is trying to attack you then I believe in doing whatever the hell you think is best. Even if it ends up getting everyone into trouble.

I get it. I really do. You want to have an interesting story, so you kill off the mother and the father is a deadbeat and the MC has to live with their estranged aunt/grandparents. Tragic, it really is. Of course this means that the MC then finds a love interest to make it all better and then the MC is happy again. Only, if you want to have an interesting story, this isn't the way to go. Have you read the reviews for To All the Boys I've Loved Before? One of the main reasons everyone loves it so much is because of the solid family unit. People love to read about quirky, funny families. It can be single parent, people do die, people do leave but the little orphan Annie storyline is so old and tired now and I don't know a single person who raves about a book because they don't have a family. Unless of course it's the main premise of the story a la The Maze Runner. Sometimes it honestly feels as though all families have dropped off the face of the earth when I'm reading books. People do have family units, people do have supportive parents. Write realistic people.

People are selfish, They are. Not everyone is willing to help the first person they see in trouble, especially if it means that they might hurt themselves. Not everyone is the selfless person they want to be.

Normal people (teenagers, adults, kids the lot) have bad days. They're not going to wake up every morning being cheery and ready to face the day and all it holds. I get that it probably won't be funnest thing to write or even the greatest scenes to read but can you just imagine that perfect girl waking up with a zit on her face or waking up in the worst mood because her parents were having sex all night and just imagine the scenes you could get out of writing those days where nothing seems to be going right. I'm having heart palpitations just thinking about it. 

These things aren't detrimental to a book and it's not something that I'll DNF a book for having/doing but these are just little points that make me love and relate to a character even more. Sometimes I find a book with a character who is just so real and I won't be able to stop thinking about that character for weeks or even months. 


  1. Replies
    1. I think my favourite one is the one titled 'BLECH' because by that point I had run out of inspiration and motivation and felt a spot on my face and literally had a Horrid Henry moment.

  2. 1. And while it sometimes happens, I agree that it is not realistic. There is no shame in having a main character that has more than one romantic relationship with a guy. It almost feels like there is something wrong with it.
    5. YES. I'm always surprised when someone is willing to sacrifice their life without second thoughts. I'm sorry, but if I would have to die in order to save the world I would like to give it some thoughts.

    1. *guys or girls, of course. Depends on their preference :p

    2. Yes! And while it's not outright 'slut-shaming' for lack of a better phrase it definitely does give younger readers who maybe haven't had a chance to make up their own thoughts about who they want to be/are still vulnerable to outside influences a warped perception about relationships. I don't want to bring feminism into this but I feel that it is a feminist issue and some writers should stop making sexual preferences/actions/talk (wow I have such good vocabulary) feel like such a taboo.

  3. I hate it when people go all "LOVE OF MY LIFE" on the first boyfriend. It's too much. Like, I don't even have a boyfriend right now, and I'm pretty sure my first boyfriend won't be the guy I marry. So yeah, sure, I'll take a good romance any day, but don't turn into some fantasy.