I’ve been in a super salty mood this month for some reason (i’m sick right now so i’m blaming it on that), and because of that, the salt is just pouring out of me. I’ve been secreting salt out of my pores, friends, and it’s not always great. Except for when it gives me good post ideas like this one.
This post was kind of inspired by my recent DNF where I saw two of the things that I’ve listed here, and also the fact that as I get older the less patience I have with the kinds of things I’m going to be talking about. I’m 23 now so that basically makes me a grumpy old woman at this point.
POTTY TIME 🚾
I am all for normalising the human body, but to me, there is a huge difference between characters talking about periods, and writing your characters urinating or defecating. Thankfully, I haven’t seen this happen too often but it recently came up in The Cruel Prince as one of the millions of ways that Jude reinforces that she’s just so different from the faeries. I understand that people pee and poop and that’s something that we do, but I just don’t need to read about it. Please don’t.
Recently I’ve found myself reading a lot of self-insert fanfiction as a form of self-care (shush, we all have our ways, and mine just happen to involve imagining that i’m cuddling with my favourite character), and unfortunately (at least for me) a lot of fanfiction writers describe eyes as “orbs”. And I mean A LOT OF THEM. Do you ever come across writing advice that tells you that there is absolutely nothing wrong with using the word “said” to describe dialogue? The same can go for eyes. There’s nothing wrong with calling eyes what they actually are: which is eyes. I’ve seen them be called “orbs” so much in the past month or so that it just doesn’t sound right. There are millions of ways to describe someone’s eyes, but “orbs”? Really? In this day and age?
OVERPROTECTIVE LOVE INTERESTS 💔
I feel like I should clarify that there is absolutely nothing wrong with wanting to defend your loved ones when someone treats them badly, but if someone is “protecting” their S/O from pretty much everyone and not letting them come into contact with anyone? That’s abuse.
If my memory serves me right, there are plenty of moments in Twilight where Edward tries to keep Bella away from Jacob for one reason or another, and Jacob tries to do the same. Looking back, it’s actually quite uncomfortable to see. Jealousy is a natural human emotion, but when someone gets jealous to the point of almost hurting their loved ones, it becomes toxic.
This is something that I see a lot in paranormal romances, and I’m sure that’s a big part of why I grew so distant from the genre. I don’t see it as being romantic, or even as being “erotic” in some cases (yuck), it’s just a huge red flag to me.
BORING OP MAIN CHARACTERS 😴
In this context, “OP” stands for “overpowered”. I don’t usually mind OP characters as long as they’re interesting. Superman is interesting to me because even though his powers are considered “standard” all of his development goes into who he is as a character instead of giving him new powers whenever the plot calls for it.
Someone like Goku is a little less interesting because most of his development does go into him getting stronger and gaining new abilities (dude just keeps winning the super saiyan lottery), but he has an endearing personality that makes up for the fact that him winning all the time gets boring sometimes.
However, there are characters out there who serve no reason other than to just save the day and always win. Personality? I don’t know her, all we know with these characters are victories, punching people, and snarky one-liners. Give me some depth, please.
USING YOUR WORK TO BASH ANOTHER 🖕🏻
Oh, lord this really gets on my nerves. We all have works that we don’t like, and that we think we can do better than, but outright using your creative work to just bash and hate on another? That’s just unprofessional.
There are times that this can be funny because it’s objective, but there are instances where it just goes too far or if everyone starts ripping on one thing, it can just look like they’re ganging up on it. Yes, I’m aware that Twilight wasn’t very good, but after a while, the constant riffing and pointing-and-laughing just got really old and stale.
Thankfully this isn’t something that pops up in books too often, but the last time I saw it happen, it was done so badly that I ended up DNFing it on the spot. Maybe I was a little oversensitive, but here’s a little rule: if you’re going to talk about how your character is nothing like X character, make sure you actually know what you’re talking about. Seriously, this book decided to drop a line about how unlike Dracula, the main character didn’t consider sunlight to be their mortal enemy. Guess what main character? Neither did Dracula. Read your source material next time.
UNNECESSARY ROMANCES 💕
Have you ever come across one of those series where literally every. single. character. gets paired up with each other by the end? Or even half-way through? It’s pretty damn frustrating. Especially when every couple is heteronormative. looking at you j.k. rowling.
Recently I found out about this old internet joke which is a webcomic called Sonichu. Don’t bother reading it. Not only is it terribly written and has horrible art, it’s extremely homophobic, racist, misogynistic (it’s that “how can i be sexist when i love women so much” kind of misogyny), transphobic (at first), and actually descends into terrible pornography. also the author put stolen porn of fictional children in it at one point, which is illegal. But one of the most frustrating parts of it is that every character has to be in a relationship. ALL OF THEM. Including the self-insert of the author. At first, they all have to be straight, but once the author came out as a trans lesbian, there are queer relationships, but none of them are B/B.
What I’m getting at is this: it’s not necessary for all of your characters to be in relationships. Celibate people exist and whether it’s because they’re asexual/aromantic or because they chose to just not be in a relationship, they exist. The idea that every single person in the world has to be in a romantic or sexual relationship is pretty patronising.
I know that we give male writers a hard time over constantly mentioning breasts for no apparent reason, but I think it can be applied to every writer of all genders. Unless you are writing an erotic scene or an entire erotic novel, you don’t need to just randomly talk about someone’s breasts.
ESPECIALLY IF IT’S A YA BOOK.
Last month I read Stormdancer and while I did enjoy it, one thing really bugged me. We get a scene of Yukiko being watched while she’s stripping off in the onsen, and her body is described in a fair bit of detail. She’s a teenager. This is not necessary for a character of any age, but it’s extremely inappropriate when the character is a teenager. I’m not interested in knowing what a 16-year-old girl’s breasts look like. I’m 23 years old and even though I may not be the target audience, it just makes my skin crawl. I’ve seen this in a couple of other books too, but thankfully it’s an extremely rare occurrence. If you wouldn’t describe a teenage boy’s body in that way, you shouldn’t do it to a girl. And vice versa.