Wednesday, May 25, 2016

As a Woman, I'm Insulted...

Dear (Most) Writers of Women's Fiction,

As a woman, I'm insulted by the rubbish you've written for us. Though I'm grateful that the LAPL (Los Angeles Public Library) has an excellent selection of eBooks for us who can't keep driving to and from one of the local library branches, your books have made me sorry to have so many options because most of them are terrible and an absolute waste of time.

Now, I'm not dumping on everyone. I've read some decent novels that were hard to put down. Though I might've had some personal issues with the language and a small thing or two because I'm a "prude," but, overall, the characters were relatable and the story was engaging. To you 2% who don't focus on superficial things in novels, massive kudos to you!

As a writer, I understand that it's not easy to write a novel. I wrote (and rewrote) my first novel several times over a period of about 5 years. The second was easier as it was a sequel and I already knew how the story was going to end. I get that sometimes when we write, we think what would appeal best to our intended audience. Sometimes, though, I get a feeling that some of us (and I'm going to exclude myself from this bit) write what we think will sell for the sake of selling, leaving the plotline to suffer as a consequences.

As a woman I'm insulted that you think that all we think about is lustful sex... and clothes... and unrealistic romance in an idealistic world. Yes, we women like romance. Hi, I like Hallmark movies and will cry at the end of some of those movies. However, I'm worried that the way stories are written will have an adverse effect on women in general.

What are the most common plots I've noticed in books I've read lately? Woman wants to reform a man... woman wants a man she can't have... woman is unhappy in her relationship/marriage so she seeks to get her pleasure kicks elsewhere... woman dreams about her dream man and she gets him... woman is obsessed with looking thin and perfect. Do you see where there is a problem in the genre?

How about books of women going through real life struggles with the help of their family and friends? How about a focus on platonic love instead of writing smut? Yes, most of us women thrive when we feel a connection with another person, but it doesn't always have to be dramatic and romantic. How about writing about real issues we women face like how complicated relationships are, about women suffering from infertility, about genuine human connections that inspire us to be better women? Why must the majority of books lead down the smutty road of lustful sex? Newsflash: not all of us like that stuff nor do we live it.

I'm sure there's an audience for these types of books but, if the reviews on Goodreads are any indication, most of us are looking for more than one dimensional characters getting their groove on. We want literary women of substance. We want to read about ordinary women who do extraordinary things against all odds. We want to read about heroines who strive for more than finding the perfect boyfriend/husband, having the perfect wedding, and/or exceed in beauty. Give me a "frumpy looking" character whose mind and heart challenges and inspires readers rather than a beautiful one who is shallow and loathsome.

As a writer I promise to try to write characters that I would've hoped someone else would've written for me, if that makes any sense. I want to challenge my readers. I want to show younger readers that there's more to life than snagging the "hot" and "sexy" guy... more than fitting into the "right" clothes... to looking "perfect"... to being what the world expects me to be like. I'm not saying my books will be likeable to all or even "good," but if I can help combat the crud that is out there, I'll be happy.

Anyway, sorry for this rant, y'all. I just got done with yet another terrible novel (this one had a main character who was in an adulterous relationship for 6 YEARS with a man who clearly wasn't going to leave his wife -- not that he should've -- and kept making excuses to stay with him) and I needed to vent my frustration in long form. It frustrates me because so many of these books have promising ideas behind them and the blurbs are intriguing but the ysimply crash and burn within the first 50 pages.

Any of you ladies have similar thoughts when reading fiction novels, especially those aimed at us? Have any of you read any books that have rich, complex characters that you can recommend? Please let me know; I need stuff to read before bed -- it's how I unwind and it helps me fall asleep. :)

As always, thanks for reading and God bless! :)


AnneMarie said...

First off-love the Emma Approved gif. That webseries is wonderful :) Secondly, oh my goodness yes! I love the library, and occasionally I peer at the "new books" shelf. The past 3 or so times that I have done so, the vast majority of the adult fiction books have features covers or titles that are pretty inappropriately steamy and erotic! Granted, the whole infidelity-reforming bad boy-wanting what you can't have-isn't new; those kinds of themes have been around for a while in Gothic literature, and, I've been told, some medieval literature as well. But it really bugs me that people continue writing this kind of stuff (not to say that Gothic type lit is bad, but it can be done in a good way-Jane Eyre-and a bad way-Fifty Shades). And I agree-we need more variety! Like a woman who isn't interested in jumping into a romantic relationship. I don't know if you're into comic books/superheroes at all, but I recently fell in love with the comic books The Unbeatable Squirrel Girl. They focus on a normal, dorky, loveable college girl who is also part squirrel. My library had them, so if you're not opposed to comics, you should look at your library! Have you read "Les Miserable"? I read the full unabridged version last summer, and while I love the movie, I loved the book way more!

This is kind of random, but when my older brother and I were in the library several months ago, we started finding and making fun of ALL the fiction covers of books that are aimed towards female readers. Humorously enough, a lot of them are so similar: solitary figure looking over her shoulder, a couple embracing, that kind of stuff. It's pretty humorous :)

Lady Jane said...

Party Girl by Rachel Hollis!!!