Sunday, September 04, 2005

Perfect heroines

Captain’s Log, Stardate 09.04.2005

What is it about perfect heroines that annoys me so much?

I just read a Bombshell that was rather entertaining, but the heroine bugged me after a while. She’d made mistakes in her past, had a pissy attitude problem, and a lot of crappy things had happened to her. Okay, cool backstory.

But during the novel, she did everything well. She had no hang-ups. She had no weaknesses. She met every challenge with strength and bravery and super-human skill.

She had insecurities, and while she was confident, she wasn’t insufferably arrogant about her abilities. But the fact she didn’t have much character growth didn’t endear her to me. Her only internal conflict was her still-burning flame for her ex-lover, who had betrayed her years earlier.

Maybe I missed the grand Black Moment. If so, it wasn’t very black, and she didn’t change very much from it.

Now I know why the writing books say that spiritual/emotional arc is so important. It’s not necessarily for the 3-dimensionality of the character—because the Bombshell heroine was very real to me—but I didn’t relate to her at all. That kind of relating to a protagonist has nothing to do with her super skills, which I’ll certainly never have. It’s in her emotional state, which puts everyone on the same level, regardless of talents.


I relate to, say, Wonder Woman, because under her beauty and strength, she’s got emotional baggage just like me. I don’t need a protagonist as unathletic as I am in order to relate to her. I can relate to an Olympic gold medalist if she has the same kind of internal struggles I face.

I am reading with a more critical eye these days. Trying to delve deep and figure out why I put a book down or feel dissatisfied even when the craft is technically perfect.

Reading for pleasure is harder, now, because I’m so critical. But I’m wasting less time on books that are not up to par—I don’t have the reading time to throw away on stories I won’t enjoy or learn from. And when I do find a book that sucks me in and keeps me hooked to the last page, Aaaaaaaaaaaaaaah. What a rush.

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