Plain Jane Gets Her Man
Ugh! I cannot stand these plain, average girls with zero personality, qualities, or features. They don’t have big personalities or intricate description. And I truly understand the reasoning behind it and why authors tend to use it. If the female character (especially in a romance novel) is a Plain Jane then it’s easy for the reader to see herself in the character. I get it. It’s almost genius if you really think about it from a writer’s perspective. But I can’t handle it. I want strong characters, written with characteristics and qualities that make her a full and whole person. Not just some generic brown haired girl who thinks she isn’t pretty but of course she really is. And then these strongly developed male characters come along and see something hidden beneath the surface and it draws them in. Even though, realistically, these girls have no real personalities. They’re meant to be optional. For you as the reader to be able to fit yourself into these character’s roles. Again, genius. But unrealistic. On another note, I don’t really have a problem with her “getting her man” because I obviously want to see the two main characters fall in love, it’s just unrealistic. Why would a person with a full and detailed personality find anything interesting in a character with no actual personality of her own, except for the ones the reader has inserted themselves?
Girl’s Life Changes Because of a Boy
Bah! This one is annoying too. For a lot of the same reasons above. Why can’t the girl have a fantastic life before she meets him and he adds more to it. Why does she have to be the girl with zero life, until this bad boy guy comes in and changes her entirely? Why can’t her personality be fully developed and then she meets a boy who enhances that? Is this really the best we can do?
Damsel in Distress
This one is ridiculous. Why are so many female characters portrayed as weak and in desperate need of saving? A Court of Thorns and Roses was so good because the damsel in distress saved herself. And her man. And good for her! Those are the types of characters with full personalities who can stand alone and be interesting! So many books need to make the woman someone who can’t save herself. Sure, there’s some latent, old fashioned swoon factor to the idea of a woman being able to count on her man to save her when she needs. But I want to see her fight her own battles. And maybe some of his, too. Just to even things out a bit.
This one bothers me just because it’s annoying. You can’t have an entire book with a character who is obviously the antagonist of the storyline for the entire time, and then at the end (or middle or wherever you want to put it) suddenly changes their mind and becomes good. I get that people can change. But you can’t make me hate a character for the entire book and then at the end everything works out happily ever after and the bad guy is a good guy now. Stay consistent with your characters – or at least make the transition smooth and feel right.
Girl Doesn’t Realize Her Own Beauty
Why. Why? I completely understand that as human beings we’re naturally (unfortunately) hyper critical of ourselves (for the most part) but why do these girls not realize they’re “pretty?” I think this ties in well with the Plain Jane thing. She thinks she’s just this potato sack of a girl – nothing special. And what always happens? Some male character comes along and makes her realize she’s actually beautiful. Why does that happen? Heaven forbid a female character knows they’re pretty. Perhaps they don’t think of themselves as gorgeous or sexy, but can they not at least recognize their beauty in some form? I keep asking the same questions over and over but I think the reality is we need stronger female protagonists. The male ones are full fledged and have strong characteristics. And don’t get me wrong – there are so many books that do just that. The female lead is strong and powerful and sure of herself. But a lot are the opposite. That needs to change.
Alright. I got pretty heated there for a minute. Sorry if I ranted a little too hard, but weak female characters are my least favourite thing in books. We are strong. We don’t need to be these shapeless blobs for the reader to slip herself into. I want to read about female characters who are the opposite of me just as much as I want to read ones who are similar to me. Whether or not I see a link between me as the reader and her as the protagonist, it doesn’t make the book a bad read.
Okay okay, I’ll stop now. Again, sorry for the rant and let me know what you think about various tropes!