I’ve been thinking about writing and self-censorship lately. I realized I’ve been craving more romance in fiction, but I haven’t written it, because I’m afraid to write it badly. I’ve not delved deep into emotion, because I’ve been afraid of bordering on melodrama. There are good reasons to self-censor, but fear is not one of them.
I need to have the confidence to write the novel I want to read, but that means I have to figure out what I want, doesn’t it? So here goes! As usual, list making ensues.
The Novel I Wish I Could Read Has…
- Characters that make mistakes, that are trying to do their best, but screw up sometimes.
- Characters that are forced to make tough decisions. Sometimes right and wrong aren’t always simple to define.
- Worlds that are fresh, rich, new, unexplored. No more pseudo-medieval settings, thanks.
- Romance! There I said it. I want more of it. Romance doesn’t have to end happily, and not all relationships are healthy, but it always adds an extra layer of tension.
- Relationship development that involves more than just lust . It pisses me off when the only reason X loves Y is because they’re beautiful. Love doesn’t always begin at first sight. What about starting with friendship? What about compatible personalities?
- Male and female relationships that are platonic. Not every pairing has to end up in a romance.
- Diverse standards of beauty. Not everyone finds blond and blue eyed lust worthy. Maybe people like freckles, brown skin, or shortness. Maybe people admire perfect earlobes. Alternately, maybe beauty has nothing to do with the physical.
- Strong female characters. They don’t wait to be saved, they act upon their environments with whatever tools they have at their disposal.
- Different definitions of strength. Emotional strength, resilience, love for family, loyalty to friends… its not just physical strength that matters.
- Villains that are just as nuanced as the main characters. They must have a reason for what they do. Maybe they even think they’re doing the right thing.
- A sense that the world is greater than the book, that there was a history to this world, and there is a future that extends beyond the story. I want to feel like I’ve just glanced a moment in of time.
- A multicultural setting. People of color, mixed-raced characters. A fantasy/sci-fi world where every one of us on this crazy planet could exist.
- Magic with serious consequences.
- Issues relevant to today. Maybe the story’s entertaining on the surface, but doesn’t shy away from issues that are very real: poverty, genetic manipulation, immigration, natural disasters, global warming, disease, displacement…
- Scary magical creatures. The supernatural is frightening, isn’t it?
- Action. Characters kicking ass. Suspense.
- Emotion that rings true. You feel it, you know it’s real pain. You know its honest.
Maybe I can’t write it (I will try), but if you’ve written this novel, I swear I will line up to buy it, and you’ve got a fan for life!
What are some things that you’d throw into the novel you wish you could read?