Sarcasm Central

Give Me Realism Girls or Give Me Death!

Have you ever read a book where the main girl character just didn’t feel like a girl?  Recently I’ve read several books like this where I think the author wanted the girl to be an “every girl” so they refused to describe how she looks or how she feels as far as being a girl or being self-conscious or having low self-esteem or body issues. This drives me batty because these characters don’t seem realistic at all!  Or how about those unrealistic plot lines or…characters who do things that make no freaking sense!  Join me in a gripe about unrealistic novels!!

I hate the Everygirl Character. Sorry!

Let’s start with the girl or character who is an “every character.”  This is so uninteresting to me.  I guess the idea is that any reader can picture themselves as this girl character.  I don’t like this.  I hate this!  I’m not her!  I want to learn who she is! Give me personality, give me attitude, give me self-doubt, give me body issues or tell me you hate your huge ass, or tell me your chest is too small or you have bad skin, tell me your hair is too curly or too straight, tell me your teeth are messed up, tell me you feel weird around the hot guy or you don’t know what to say, tell me you’d never be caught dead without your makeup, tell me it takes you 3 hours to get ready (HOLY HELL do not tell me you just rolled out of bed and in walked the hot boy and you didn’t even BAT a freaking eyelash!), tell me you worry he’s looking at your weird feet, or that you’re obsessed with sporting equipment, yoga pants, handbags or shoes.  Tell me you can’t leave the house without mascara or your favorite jewelry.  Tell me the shit you do love about your body too. Damn I’ve got a great looking neck! Tell me freaking something.  No more of this…undescribed female.

And then these weird “it” creatures have sex with boys who are to “die for” and described in minute detail…and yea I just don’t buy it!  Suddenly we’ll be hearing about bras coming off or panties etc and he’s touching her neck and running his fingers…where?…And the whole time I’m thinking… I didn’t even realize this was a girl!  I mean what kind of body does she have?  What color hair?  Eyes?  Is she self-conscious or freaking conceited.  I mean, tell me what we’re working with here! Especially if you’re writing from the “I” perspective, I want to feel like I am in a girl’s body, a real live breathing girl who wonders what the boy thinks of her love handles! or her rock hard man-abs!  Something!  And don’t just give me the emotional issues as so many of them seem to have, I want to feel all the issues this girl has.  I want her to be a real person, not just some cardboard cutout with daddy issues for the sexy witty male character to make out with.

And my goodness…don’t act like you’re doing the reader a favor by not describing anything about your character.  Most of us have the sense of sight and we use it on a daily basis to “see” people and we see ourselves all the time too!  Every trip to the bathroom!  Don’t act like you’re not checking your teeth, thinking about your clothes, wondering if you see a grey hair!

Everyone is sexy as all get out!

The opposite of this is obviously the characters that are far far too good looking to be real.  However I have a opinion on these as well…everyone has a “taste” in what is attractive, so if my girl character says a guy is hot or vice versa, that person is hot to that person.  I think attraction is one of the first things in almost every relationship, so I’m okay with people being good looking to other people in books.  It’s acceptable.  See how I did that, I just accepted something without a fight!  I’m learning!

And then he saved her from death…again.

Secondly let’s work on unbelievable plot lines.  I know every girl has that fantasy of being “saved” by the hot sexy boy character…but please!  PLEASE PLEASE!!  It shouldn’t be the plot of every single book I read.  It’s so unrealistic.  Not only does sexy boy like the “it” girl (And I didn’t just say “it” as in the fashion forward girl, I mean the girl of undescribed characteristics), he also is practically obsessed with her even though she has no characteristics to love!  And then he saves her from the “death” scenario, either emotionally or physically.  Then he fights for her and punches some other stereotypical “asshole” all while whispering sweet nothings in the girl’s ear.  It’s just too much.

And when I tried to let some guy save her by punching a foul-mouthed asshole, Victoria said to me…GET REAL BITCH!!

I’ll be honest, in my first drafts of Angst, I had a few of these over the top scenarios, the fight scene, the saving her scene and then I found my character’s voice and Victoria was like HELL NO this is not how this happens, are you kidding me!!!???  Get real bitch!  And I was like…oh shit…sorry girl and she helped me see the light about what really happens between boys and girls and I did this by mining my own relationship/dating history.  I mean shit, we’re talking mis-communication, we’re talking about self-esteem issues, we’re talking about not understanding each other, we’re talking about refusing to take a risk, we’re talking about assumptions.  We’re talking about crushes where you don’t know what the hell to say to each other.  We’re not talking about witty banter all the time (as awesome as some of this is…and it IS pretty awesome sometimes, it’s also extremely unrealistic).  What we’re talking about is AWKWARD as hell.  We’re talking about girls who save themselves now and then and don’t need some guy to make everything all right and we’re also talking about how depressed and self-conscious these girls get because of the boy.  Are my tits not big enough, is my ass too big?  Am I too fat, too skinny?  What is WRONG WITH ME??   Did I say the wrong thing?  Did I refuse to give it up when he wanted me to?  I mean these guys are far too perfect too.  Puh-lease.  So many of the hotties were terrible horrible ASSHOLESSSS!!

So many juicy secrets! (And none of them were obvious at all!)

And no more contrived plots where you can sense what will happen from a mile away.  Or where there are all these secrets that you’re not really sure why someone was keeping.  Well, I couldn’t tell you because of such and such and such and bullshit!  Don’t give me that!  I think a lot of plots with supposed kept secrets fall flat for me because I don’t get why these people were keeping these secrets.  Especially parents.  Just tell your secrets and no books can ever be written!!!  Haaaa.

She did what?!  No FUCKING WAY!!

I also hate unrealistic stuff…that the girl characters do.  In one book I read a girl spray painted a poem on a rockface, in the dark with a flashlight and that shit was like 2 sentences long and then someone with her…READ IT and it was legible?!! And this girl was not a graffiti artist or anything and she only had a tiny space to stand and she was afraid of heights and was on a cliff.  Excuse me?  Really?  That just happened?  Or in one book I read a girl built herself a tree house, like a really nice treehouse with no prior experience with building because her dad bought her some wood.  WTH!???  I was building my own house at the time, so I was losing my shit over this because I know how hard it is to build something with no prior experience.  This girl even used power tools, carried the wood up herself, NAILED the wood into the tree.  Are you kidding me?  Not buying it with monopoly money, not buying it with any kind of currency.

Broken Girls are all so popular.  I wish I was one.  Oh wait…

I guess I have a hard time suspending disbelief with some of this stuff.  If something feels off or unrealistic I fall right out of the story and nothing these undefined girls can do can pull me back in again.  Plus there are so many “broken” girl stories.  Let’s see what other angle we can take, can we give her a rape scene?  Yes!  Can we change the way the rape happened to make it different from X, Y, Z novel? A-course we can! Can we give her family problems, check mate!  Can someone in her life have committed suicide?  Sure!  I mean, I get it…Angst is about a girl with problems, a girl who is broken…however since that girl is pretty damn realistic, in that she’s pretty much ME, I feel no qualms about saying that this annoys me.  Yes, we’re all broken..but be broken in a realistic new honest way.  Don’t be a boring cliché broken person.  And don’t use the same formula and just change a tiny piece, change the whole damn thing.  Give me…a real girl.

So there’s my lil gripe session about girls in novels….

The Truth is:  It’s not the books, I’m Unrealistic.  I might be a bot-bot girl sent from the future.

For fricks-sake…maybe I’m unrealistic and my whole life is a lie.  LIESSSS!!!  Maybe that’s the answer.  Disregard former message.  Haaaaa!!!

Oh and BTW, I love how ridic and dramatic my post titles are.  Get a load of this one…GIVE ME DEATH!!  So freaking unrealistic!  It proves my point that I can’t be trusted because I’m full of shit myself.  And I apologize to the authors of the aforementioned unbelievable books, cause when I’m on a roll, I’m on a fucking roll.  I can’t be stopped from my mission of ranting to my heart’s content.

Rant with me? Puh-lease?

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About Victoria Sawyer (282 Articles)
Victoria Sawyer is a blogger, author, aspiring graphic designer, social media enthusiast and mental health advocate. Shocking, honest, sarcastic and humorous, Victoria aims to make readers feel tangible emotions and physical sensations through writing that brings you into the mind and body of someone suffering from panic attacks, anxiety and this strange often darkly hilarious thing we call life. She published her novel Angst in 2013, which realistically and often graphically depicts life with mental illness. Along with crazy blogging, Victoria enjoys reading historical novels, playing with her naughty cats, engaging in rants and metaphysical existential meltdowns and using punctuation to excess in everything she writes.

7 Comments on Give Me Realism Girls or Give Me Death!

  1. I think the “everygirl” character has become extra popular since Twilight became big; Bella is basically an empty vessel for the reader to pour herself into so that she can experience being stalked by a marble-skinned OMG SO GORGEOUSSZZZZZ BOY YAY. It obviously worked there, so now female protagonists are just kind of there. With one “flaw,” like being clumsy.

    I’ve struggled with this. It took a few drafts for my girl to find her feet, her voice, her flaws, and her personality. It IS hard. I probably need to add more physical description, but I don’t do the looking-in-the-mirror-and-describing-self thing. I do have the advantage of another narrator to describe her, but even then I tend to let the reader fill in gaps when description doesn’t flow with the story. As a reader, I’d rather have a few key descriptors and room to imagine than description that slows things down. Bonus points to writers who can get a character’s looks in without stopping to describe them, though!

    It’s hard to say what IS realistic in a character. I agree, though, that I’d rather have a character with a strong personality (even if I don’t necessarily like her) than an empty one who I can’t describe beyond “black hair” “trauma in past” and “likes hot boys.” I recently put down a book for exactly this reason. I seriously didn’t care which perfect-looking boy the girl ended up with, because she didn’t have enough personality for me to care about her as a person.

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    • I agree it is hard to make someone seem fully formed. I don’t think you have to do the “mirror” thing to show what someone looks like, even just their own feelings about their body. Like if you’re fooling around with a guy, what are you thinking about? I know me, I’d probably be feeling self-conscious about something or other and that right there helps to form a picture of that person as a “real” person versus a cardboard cut out. I also agree it’s hard to say what is ‘realistic” and what isn’t. Everyone writes differently or has a different style so…yeah it’s hard to say. I also agree with putting down books because of blase characters. It drives me crazy! Thanks for stopping by and adding to the convo! 🙂

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  2. I grew up on L.M. Montgomery’s Anne and Emily series, and there is a scene in the third Emily book where her soul mate calls for her (a bird whistle), but because of situations it seems like he’s just trying to exercise power over her, and she fights her urge to run to him and instead lights a lamp in the window and sits down at her desk and starts writing. He leaves town without ever seeing her. Of course, the happy ending comes for them in the end, but she stood strong and independent and was an equal partner in their relationship. And Emily and women like her are the fictional role models I took growing up.

    I despise weak-willed characters and that they are idolized right now. It’s like they are a justification for the lives of inaction and laziness and abusive relationships and the step backwards for women in our society. Part of me is glad that people are reading at all, but really, it’s ridiculous.

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    • I read those books too when I was a girl and really liked them and I love your example here! I agree there are too many weak-willed characters out there or ones that are simply unformed. I was afraid this post would be really controversial and that people wouldn’t like my opinion so it’s nice to hear that some do agree with me and notice this trend too. Thanks!

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      • Not controversial at all! And it’s annoying because as a sci-fi/fantasy lover, I have to deal with token women in stories a lot from male authors, but I can’t really complain when women are doing similar things or worse (in my opinion).

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  3. Great post, first of all! Secondly, I find myself in a weird position, because I half agree with your post and half disagree. Not that I disagree that many characters in books are unrealistic, male and female both. But I would disagree that every girl and/or woman feels negatively about themselves, or second guesses themselves, or is self-conscious, etc. I think it depends on where a person is in their lives, and of course on their personality. Of course if you have a female (or male) character who is not say, self conscious about their body, they should have SOME type of flaw, it’s true, otherwise they are unrealistic and the reader can’t identify with them as a human being. I myself went through a period of self-consciousness, for sure, I think that’s definitely a part of life and figuring out who you are. But eventually, I think more as a defense mechanism for myself than anything, I morphed that doubt into confidence and took on the attitude of “if you don’t like me for me, move on. I won’t be changing myself in any way for anyone”. I’ve never been a fan of makeup (or even messing with my hair, it was a complete frizz-ball for most of my young life… and I didn’t even dress remotely like a girl until college!) – I only wear it now on very special occasions, and when I do my husband actually despises it because he thinks it makes me look strange. HA! Hopefully I don’t come across as an arrogant bitch to anyone, lol, but as far as can tell this attitude has worked in my favor! Anyway, I do totally agree with you though on the level that every character in a book should be HUMAN, that means strengths AND weaknesses, and definitely not cardboard cut outs!

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    • Now, I agree with you! haha. When I wrote this I was thinking about YA or NA novels with characters who are 16 – 21 or so. And at that time I had a lot of insecurities, however I agree with you that as you get older you do gain confidence. I know I have. I’m not nearly so insecure! It’s a great feeling. And you are right..there has to be some kind of flaw…it doesn’t matter what it is..whether a weakness for makeup or something else that shows the character is human.

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