As of late, I’ve been reading a slew of YA novels because–well, just because. Sometimes I get that way (I’m told it’s a good thing if I’d someday like to publish within the genre).
I don’t think many are contesting the notion that this particular section of the literary world has become overrun with female authors in the past decade (if not over a longer span). In fact, it seems there’s been some controversy about whether or not this is a situation which needs to be corrected (I love this post by Maureen Johnson, but choose a female YA author with a blog and you shall find commentary). With these female authors comes the inevitable female characters, and ladies, I’ve just got to ask: what the hell’s up with that whiny bimbo running around your story?
Okay, to be fair, not all of them are bimbos. I’ve actually been impressed with the upswing in the quality of heroines lately. There’s been general ass-kicking and actual intelligence, not just “book smarts,” attributed to most of the she-protagonists in my latest reads.
But I’ve also found a new trend, one few can pull off and many are butchering their story with: that of the overly rational female.
Yes, she does exist.
No, that whiny girl clinging to her boyfriend that you’ve created is not her. So for the love of God, please stop trying to convince me that it is.
I get it. Your main character is viewed by those around her as cold, as apathetic. She’s so logical and doesn’t let emotions get in the way.
I can throw buzz words out, too. How about: show, don’t tell.
I’ve found some good beginnings. The character is analytical, but the author was sure to include enough chinks in her chainmail that I’m not questioning whether or not she’s a sociopath. The emotions are there, but so is that rational thinking they keep telling me about.
Then he walks in.
He has pretty eyes, messy hair, and dear Lord, he just whispered in the girl’s ear and somehow sucked out all her thought-processing skills by doing so. You’d assume he’s some sort of soul-stealing specter, but no–although, cool story, bro–he’s just the love interest.
If you haven’t figured it out by now, I’m rarely a fan of the swoony boy (/girl) that keeps distracting the protagonist from the main plot. Okay, of him, I’m a fan. Of the fact that the author gets entrenched in trying to make us to understand how perfectly dreamy his eyes are and forgets about the rest of the story? Not so much.
Mr. Love Interest stumbles in, and all of the sudden, Miss Main Jane can’t think for herself. Well, she can; it’s just that all of her decisions turn out to be the wrong ones. All of her supposed “logical thinking” is actually irrational and blinded by her feelings for wonder-boy (Gag. Me. Now).
But it’s okay! Don’t fret! All will be well. For you see, Mr. Love Interest is around, and he’s a man. Therefore, of course, he can think logically for both of them and set Janey straight again. Isn’t he wonderful?
AND THIS IS WHERE I THROW THE BOOK.