Commercial Fiction Trends I'd LOVE Changed
1. A woman protagonist who not only knows independence, but is real enough to be weak at times too.
I'm bored with the Sex in the City style of woman protagonist. The urban bed hopper who never gets hurt; who feels its okay to be a "friend with benefits;" who always has a snippy comeback; sleeps on Egyptian 600 thread count sheets; has her circle of single gal friends who are exactly the same. The gal who never wonders where her next meal will come from; because she's OH SOOOO together; so much so that she never sweats unemployment with all those stellar career choices she's made and today's economy.
Can we please lose this woman protagonist? She's slightly insulting to those of us who marched for Feminism, who lived through its glass ceiling, and who later realized that we lost some good things too by changing men. She is the ideal we reached for but not the reality, for she too has a set of issues, things such as biological clocks ticking.
She isn't real for today's time, with women often worried about losing their jobs in this economy and/or going homeless.
She certainly isn't real for today's older woman who struggled through Feminism and moved on to a softer version of it. A woman who now reaching her fifties and maybe lives alone is feeling the cold whispers of downsizing brushing her existence. And who once she is handed her lay off notice is refused employment over and over for being "over qualified" or not fitting the youthful "corporate image."
Honestly, i never did relate to these perfect balanced female characters, because even in the corporate world I found them to be ass kissers and/or bitches with little heart and too much attitude of "push back."
Bring back the gal who isn't always strong, smart, and responsible for herself and let her be like the rest of us so I can relate.
2. Male characters who are not always put together well.
Men who don't wax their eyebrows or practice manscaping for a corporate meeting. Who don't always have clean nails...YUK...that turns me off! Even my nails get dirty sometimes, guys. Who don't linger in the cosmetic section of Macys searching for moisturizer and who sometimes just look like they woke up and tossed on the first thing, like women do sometimes.
Men who lose it sometimes, as most men do. Not always problem solvers but sometimes problem makers who solve the problems they make. Men who aren't steady, even-keeled, and perfectly balanced all of the time. Men with feeling and heart and anger and a lack of reason sometimes. Men I want to slap at times when they act like Neanderthals, and adore other times because they also have a sensitive side.
Men too with unemployment issues, who maybe suffer some guilt for not being able to provide for their families. Men who turn that guilt into tension. Men who even resent women for taking their jobs and watch soccer games and eat junk food. Bring them back, those lovely men!
3. Slow down the action and let me get to know the characters!
If he's jumping into cars all of the time or rolling away from detonated bombs, yet I don't give a shit about him because he is too generic, it's only a scene.
I want to turn pages and then stop and breathe and learn about the character. His eyebrow raising and flipping people off only tells me so much about him. Does he put on one sock and then one shoe and move to the other? Does he love his mother, hate her, hate all women because of her and risks his life for that reason?
The art of mixing in SOME narration seems to have fallen by the wayside and I'm bored with many characters today. I realize the plot moves along faster, but are these people memorable? When I think of the simple, slow life of Doc and Lenny from Steinbeck's Of Mice and Men, something tells me action doesn't make the book.
This is why I believe the classics are selling so well these days.
I long for those old characters, as sexist as they were, as frail as they could be, as slow as the story moved sometimes; but with good storytelling. I long to know real people sometimes. I'm not always trying to escape my existence. Agents and publishers, sometimes I just want to relate to someone going through the same and say, "See? I'm not the only one living this shitty life...look at this one."
I don't care about politically correct stories.
I want real human beings and with the economy and world the way it is, I feel we need them more than ever to re-humanize us. Some of the best literatute in the world was so unpolitically correct; but it had personality. We aren't natually P.C. Many of us are bastards who slip and say awful things and later feel badly for it. Can we have real characters who do so too?