Strong and relatable heroines are just as drawing to a captivating young adult novel as a sexy and secretive hero. The two go hand in hand, their dialogue and the tension making us wish we were her, and wishing he wanted us.
Some of these heroines are more relatable than others, and in my opinion, more worthy of the reader wanting to be in her place. For me, it isn’t just about being the object of the heroes affection; she needs to be a strong person and have worthy qualities on her own, to be a draw for me.
Last night I watched the final film installment of the Divergent series, Allegiant, and that got me to thinking: which heroines are actually worthy of our obsession?
So, I’ve decided to give my take on three of the most popular young adult heroines of recent years, and why I feel one I would rather be one over the other.
*NOTE: this is MY opinion. Ive read and loved all three of these series, complete with sighing, squeals and face palms. But, I am a realist, and when push comes to shove, cant ignore they are not all created equal…at least in my mind*
Immediately when you think of recent young adult heroines, the mousy Isabella Swan will be one of the first you think of. The new girl in town, immediately gaining the attention and infatuation of the local ‘hot guy but also vampire’ Edward Cullen. The first time I read the books, I didn’t think too much in to the character. I read them all at face value, more interested in the action and back and forth than the qualities of Ms Swan.
But, with additional reads, and over time, Bella irked me. A whiney little do-nothing who doesn’t deserve either one of them (Edward or Jacob) was a statement my mother and I exchanged on more than one occasion. Bella didn’t seem to have a lot to offer in terms of true strength. Of perseverance, courage and a true stand off, she always seemed to leave it to the boys. Edward vs James. Jacob vs Victoria. Edward vs Victoria. The Cullen clan vs Volturi. At no point did Bella stand alone, and show her worth.
The attention she drew from everyone in Forks made no sense. She was mousy, uninteresting and plain, and yet boys were drawn to her as though she were so much more than she was described. As Edwards internal dialogue in the never officially released Midnight Sun pointed out, she was merely ‘a novelty in a town not used to anything new’.
Sure, she went to save Edward in Italy. And yeah, she stood her ground against the Volturi in the end. But…never did she actually face off against troubles. Never was she a leader, and never did she earn my true respect as a character.
In the end, the author broke all her own rules. She said all along you couldn’t have your family and be a vampire. That you couldn’t have a baby, and be a vampire. But Bella did it all, and in turn, leaves the story with the false idea that you can have everything you want.
Beatrice Prior starts out much like the aforementioned Bella. Quiet, meek and subservient. However, unlike Bella, Tris progresses and impresses, learning to be strong, to make her own choices, and be her own person as she leaves Abnegation to Dauntless, in turn leaving her family and culture behind. Sure, Bella sort of did this when she became a vampire, but really, other than her heart stopping and a rather nausea inducing diet change, she didn’t really have to leave everything she knew.
Tris went from a culture of always doing for others, to learning to fight, and to actually fighting for everything she wanted. She was stronger than she thought, and fought against annihilation because she was different.
The second book shows her bringing up an army against those who wanted to segregate and bring her down, while the third and final brings her to the outside world, and facing all the things she never knew existed.
Tris was strong, determined and showed true progression as a character. The issue I found with her, and didn’t even realize until watching the film, was the stock everyone put in her. A sixteen year old girl was apparently enough to bring up these forces, to bring down others. Yes, I realize that is the point of YA; teach young people that they are strong enough, that they can make a difference. But in the end, what truly changed? The factions were gone, and everything was different. It ended with the idea that things would then continue on happily; but reality doesn’t work like that. Take away what people know, and they panic. Hence, Tris was a leader, but one who doesn’t know her own place any more than anyone else.
Hunger Games Series
Strong from page one. A fighter and survivor, Katniss takes over the role of both parents after her fathers death, and her mothers spiral, to take care of herself and her sister. So much so, that she takes Prims place in the deadly Hunger Games, an event she knew she could never win.
But she does. Unlike any of her competitors, Katniss knew how to be resourceful. How to hunt, how to live on so little, her body barely knew the shock. Her oppression was her strongest characteristic that brought her to the winners circle.
As the story goes on, she is much like Tris in that she is put in the role of leader. Those older than her, with more knowledge and experience, look to her as an icon. This is always something that irks me in stories, but with Katniss, I was never bothered with her holding such a place. Because you knew how she was really dealing. In her head, she didn’t see herself as a leader. The trials she faced didn’t always make her stronger; instead they broke her down, like a real person would feel. And in the end, after the death of the one person she had devoted her life to protecting, she was completely shattered. Nightmares, flashbacks, physical scars and more; she didn’t come out unscathed and to a happy world. She returned to her destroyed district, with barely any other survivors, and started over.
That, to me, was so realistic despite the dystopian theme. That even though she won the war, she didn’t come out on top. She lost everything, and nothing would ever be the same for her. And all the while, she knew it. Her internal dialogue showed her decline and her struggle, and you felt for her. By the end of the final book, I felt as beaten as she was.
Now, I feel the need to put another reminder that these are MY takes on these characters. They all have honorable traits, all dealing with quite different scenarios. Who is to say that Tris wouldn’t have made the same choices as Bella? Or that Katniss wouldn’t have chosen Dauntless as well? We will never know these answers, but it is interesting to consider, since they are all so different despite facing trials.
In my opinion, a character needs to be more than the object of the heroes desire. She needs to be strong, and grow, and show determination. But beyond that, she needs to be real. She needs to fit her age, her experience and understanding, and not always come out unscathed just because she is the heroine. Because even in real life, without vampires and factions and districts, we are all just trying to come out in one piece.
As much as people want to learn about their favourite authors, I think it is just as important to learn about the people reading the books as those writing them! So, I will be doing intermittent reader spotlights as people wish!
This spotlight is with @HarrysFool, a wonderful and enthusiastic Wattpad Reader!
1) What is it about Wattpad that appeals to you? Why choose this site over other options?
Wattpad is easy to navigate and it is so simple to discover different types of stories that appeal to me. They have learned what appeals to me.
2) What genres do you like to read best?
I enjoy so many different genres such as adult, thrillers, fantasy, romance, and my guilty pleasure which is Vampire themed books.
3) Who are some of your favorite Wattpad authors?
The first series I ever ready was "After" by Anna Todd and for all the controversy, it remains very close to my heart. I love your work as well, kristimcm! I enjoy scooby-snacks, walkstar, LoveVincitOmnia, and hesinstripes.
4) Name a few Wattpad books that you have read that have stayed with you long after finishing.
The books that have stayed with me are: the "After" series, "Her Royal Highness", the "Afterlife" series, and the "No Control" series has now overtaken me completely.
5) What do you have to say to those who feel Wattpad books are not real books?
Wattpad are real books with interesting characters with story lines that are gripping & protagonists that I can easily picture in my mind due to real life experiences. For example, the stories that include Harry Styles as a character draw me in since he is such a public figure but private person so delving into a fictional part of his life is intriguing.
In my experience, the people who choose to believe that Wattpad books are not real books should actually sit down and read one before judging. The proof is in the pudding.
Special thanks to @HarrysFool for taking part, and for being such an amazing Wattpad community member!
For any new author learning the ropes of seeking literary agent representation or publication, the amount of information you continually come across in this process is daunting. So many terms, forms, actions that you knew nothing of before considering to make the leap from kitchen table superhero to professional author.
The terms query letter, synopsis, contract, royalties, and the like were things I knew little of before starting my own search. But it wasn’t just the terms that left me feeling overwhelmed. It was the mastery of each. To not only create a query letter, but one that is captivating, and will grab the attention of your ideal agent or publisher. One that will make them want to read more of your work, and eventually, sign you on.
The objective of a query letter is simple: make the agent care enough about your main character and plot to want to read more. Seems simple right? I mean, your book is amazing, your character intriguing, and the agent will fall in love the moment s/he reads it. But you need to convince them!
There are 5 main components, plus some do's and don'ts of a query, which I will break down here.
This is all just a generalization. Some of these rules and suggestions are bendable, within reason. Others, not so much. The main thing to take away from this is the work involved in even just this step. Every part of writing is an experience, and one you must master. Put the effort in, and it will show.
And the agents will notice!
Anyone who knows me and follows me with any sort of regularity will know I don’t usually get involved in ‘fandom’ drama. And since there is no shortage of it, this should be noticeable. I don’t comment on their personal lives, I don’t report on their families. But today something happened that is going to make me break my own rules.
Today, photos of Harry Styles from a January 2016 yacht vacation with family and friends were leaked to the internet. This access was apparently done through someone hacking his mother, Anne’s, iCloud. Now, as I was busy today, I had no knowledge of the proverbial crap storm that had unleashed on Twitter until around 7pm tonight. I awoke from a nap (yes, I love napping) to photos in my Whatsapp, covering every inch of my timeline, continuous comments of ‘fans’ freaking out…but as I scrolled to the more recent, the tone quickly changed to condemnation, blame and a hashtag #sorryharryandanne.
It is the hash tag that made me snort above all the rest, and compelled me to write this little post.
First off, let me start by saying I was a fan of Backstreet Boys and NSync in my late teens and early twenties, went to concerts, followed their activities. But never in all those years, did I witness the scrutiny and lack of privacy extended to celebrities now.
Yes, I am fully aware that the majority of this lays with the fact that social media platforms such as Twitter, Facebook, and the all knowing Google were either non existent or not what they are today. But in my mind, I think it was something a little more than that. I like to think that even with that access, there would still be a boundary to privacy. I cant know for sure, but I hope, because the exponential blast from reality that I see in this fandom especially is….frightening.
In a time where accessibility to information is rampant, and with a click of a button you can know almost anything you want to know, why are people still so desperate for more? Why is it that people are not satisfied with the 732819473908 photos of Harry that he has posed for, concert photos, fan photos. Photos from his family, from himself, and his friends. Why is this fandom not happy with what is extended them, and they still want more? So much so, as to viciously invade his mothers privacy in this way?
Those photos were never meant for us. Nothing of that vacation was our business, or meant for our eyes. Yes, there is the curiosity, especially when you tack on a female within breathing range of Mr Styles. But the fact remains…..ITS NONE OF OUR BUSINESS!
A friend mentioned to me the comparison to the Justin Beiber fandom. Now, personally, Ive never ventured there. Ive heard nice things, but never visited, thinking of it more like a far off land. She mentioned that Justin had to endure paps snapping him on vacation, resulting in his willy being shown to the world. That was a horrible breach of privacy, but my response? You expect that from paps. That is their job, sadly enough, to track these celebs down and ‘get the shot’. It happens all the time, even to Harry on said yacht. So, why then, when this fandom is so quick to condemn others for such an actions (and ya’ll know you did) would you then go and trump them by actually STEALING photographs from Harrys family? Why, instead of respecting their privacy and keeping the very tiny piece of himself he has left that he hasn’t given us freely, would you take it by force?
That, to me, is disrespect on a whole other level.
Now, let me get this out there for anyone who may be prepared to throw stones…did I see the pictures? Yes. Did I look? Yes, they were sent to me, as well as on my timeline. Did I save them? No. Did I really care for their existence? Not in the least. Because it doesn’t matter to me what Harry does on his own time. He owes us nothing more of himself than what he CHOOSES to give. This includes his family and friends.
The reaction of this fandom is what prompted this little rant, so I will get to it. After everyone was finished spreading the photos around, commenting, and freaking out like jackals with a fresh carcass, the back pedaling began. The apologies, the condemnation, and a stupid bloody hash tag. As if a hash tag can make up for the privacy lost, and the personal moments stolen. It is that hash tag that ultimately pissed me off, as a person to prefers to stay on the outskirts of the drama and fandom as a whole. Because, to me, it showed the immaturity of the collective. The ‘sorry’ after the hurtful action. It means nothing.
It is actions like this, and those in the fandom responsible, who will forever keep the fandom in the ‘crazy zone’. Let’s just call it like it is, and admit that the fandom has a horrible reputation. Crazy, insolent people with no boundaries, who send hate and death threats like candy canes at Christmas. We fight back against it, some try and do good to prove otherwise. But within a few hours, and a click of a mouse, it is all erased.
People need to remember we are a representation of One Direction. Those crying foul when they weren’t nominated for a Grammy, usually are those who are stirring the pot on a regular basis. But if we don’t respect the boys enough to honor their privacy, how can the music industry respect them as artists? If we don’t, they wont. Quite simple.
I know not all fans are the ones I am directing this message to. And yes, this ended up MUCH longer than I planned. But I am more than a little hurt on Harry and Annes behalf that people would actually go to this length for this type of information. What did you feel you would gain? Notoriety? Nope, you cant even admit it. Respect? Hell no, you have countless people angry with you. So what then? What was the point?
Regardless of the reasons, the results are the same. Anne has deleted her social media, which shows just how truly hurt she is. And if you hurt Anne, you in turn hurt Harry. And why would you want to hurt someone who has given you the last five years of his life? When all he wanted in that moment was a few days solace on a boat?
Okay, my rant is over. I know I may catch flack for this, but since this seems to be the generation of entitled options, I suppose I am throwing my hat into the ring on this one.
One of the main staples in any literary work is the dialogue. As much as you want to know the characters minds, how they work, what they are thinking, you also want to observe them interact with each other, preferably with some form of tension. Because nothing brings more angst and draw to a novel than tension, right?
But how, as a writer, do you write believable and captivating dialogue? Interactions between your characters that are not only realistic, but also keep your audience and their attention focused? If you lose their interest, it is much harder to get them back, than it was to get them to start reading your work to begin with.
In my own writing, I know I tend to do a lot of internal dialogue. The thoughts and rationale of my characters, which is later displayed through actions and interactions with other characters. I write this way because it is how I think, personally. I am very introspective, thinking over things incessantly before every saying a word. This plays out in my characters and in my writing, but I am also aware that when my characters do interact, the previous insight and view of their thoughts adds to the dialogue.
So how does one write captivating and enticing dialogue? What are the tricks?
Here are some hints:
1) REALISM! No one speaks in the classic prose of Jane Austen anymore (unfortunately), so when writing dialogue for your characters, say it out loud. Say it with a friend. Does it sound like something people would say? Another helpful trick? Go to a public place and eaves drop. Listen to how people interact, the words they use. This insight to common dialogue will positively influence your own writing.
2) Every writers vice: punctuation! This is one technique that can turn a common sentence, into an epic autocorrect fail. Memes have been created to make fun of, but also point out the importance of appropriate punctuation. The same can be said for dialogue.
When a sentence is ending, keep the period, exclamation point or question mark inside the quotation.
"He said to come here."
When an attribute is before the dialogue, a comma will come before the quotation.
Mom said, "Come here."
When the attribution follows the dialogue, the comma goes inside the quotation.
"Come here," mom said.
And so on...
3) Repetition is another bane of writing existence. Readers don't want to hear 'he said', 'she said', they said', everyone said! There are plenty of ways to change up the words you use to describe dialogue, including exclaim, said, commented and the like. But remember, actions are not dialogue. People can not giggle a sentence, and using these types of words to describe conversations is usually frowned upon, although most of us (myself included) do this.
In the end, the main staple in creating dialogue is realism. If you are writing historical fiction, read works from that time to get your mind and prose in that period. If it is a modern day work, listen to conversations, television shows, friends. Think of the impact of your words, and how you want to get them across.
Because when it comes to writing, words speak louder than actions.
Any aspiring author who is actively seeking either literary agent or publishing representation knows the struggle that comes along with working towards their dreams. Spending weeks editing and revising your manuscript, reviewing your query letter, searching then researching agents and houses that may consider your work. Then, the waiting. The endless, endless waiting. And then, the responses. Chances are, a lot of them will be rejections. No one gets a yes right away, and it takes time, effort, and resilience.
Some authors, agents and houses understand the struggle new authors are facing, and in turn, have taken it upon themselves to make access to the other side of that fence a little easier. Online social media pitch events, usually featured on Twitter, are hosted by agents or houses, prompting either form entry or pitches of 140 characters or less along with a hashtag for agents to review. If your pitch peaks their interest, a favorite will be starred, and you are then to follow their submission guidelines in the hopes that it is your opening to an agent.
I have taken part in several of these events, and they have opened doors to experience, connections in the industry and more, so I figured I would share a few here for other writers to consider entering.
Held every March, and hosted by young adult author and friend of the struggling writer Brenda Drake, Pitch Madness is an event where writers submit a form to be considered to win requests by participating agents. Entrants use a 35 word pitch, and the first 250 words of their novel, and hope its striking enough to get the agents attention. There are four teams, all hosted by a reader and agent, and 60 writers are put in to these teams to be mentored over time. Agents compete for more pages, and eventually a full manuscript.
Curtis Brown literary agency is one of the top agencies in the UK, hosting best sellers and countless popular authors. Taking their own spin on the Twitter pitch event craze, #PitchCB allows writers to pitch their work to agents at the house through 140 characters. If an agent from the agency favorites your tweet, follow their submission guidelines, submit to THAT agent, and wait to see if you’ve made a connection.
Pitch to Publication is a little different, although still a Twitter based event. Hosted by Samantha Fountain, this event is for FULLY COMPLETED MANUSCRIPTS who are looking for the chance at editor review. Using a form for entry, entrants submit their work with a query letter and the first five pages. There are approximately ten agents reviewing the entries, and you can follow along with their progress through the hash tags #p2p16 and #tenqueries. In this event, make sure you review the manuscript wish lists of each editor to make sure you are submitting to the most appropriate. You only get 3 options to review your submission, so make sure its fitting! If they choose your work, they will request a partial manuscript to review further. Then, they pick the one they feel has the most promise, and that author gets a whole month of revision and guidance from an experienced editor. Once all the edits are made, there is an agent round where the manuscripts are considered by literary agents for representation!
There are obviously so many more options for pitch events….so many so, it would be impossible to list them all. But these give you a little overview to consider the options out there. Be sure to follow these hash tags and learn from the tweets that are present now to see what you’re up against and gain insight in to this type of querying!
Many new authors spend hours upon hours considering where the best places to network may be. Some conferences are all business; networking, queries, pitches and the like. Others are more focused to the booklover themselves, fans and writers alike joining forces to support some of the new and established together.
A conference I, myself, am planning to attend this year, is Book Con. Held in Chicago on May 14, the event has been running for many years, with previous events held in New York City. Panels, autograph sessions, and books galore, this is the place to get a little bit of anything you love, so long as you love the written word.
Ive decided to focus this weeks post on this event, and give you a little info incase you were considering attending.
Date: May 14, 2016
Place: McCormick Place, Chicago, IL
Admission: $30 (before April 15)
Overview: Listed as ‘where storytelling and pop culture collide’, this one day event brings together writers, publishers, celebs and creators that have a hand in everything you love to read. Autograph sessions, Q&As, podcasts, screenings, quiz shows and more, there is so much to do in this one event, you will have your head spinning.
Guests: The list is endless, and may have brought out my inner fangirl! Cassandra Clare (the Mortal Instruments), Alexandra Bracken (the Darkest Minds), Ann Martin (Babysitters Club), Kami Garcia (Beautiful Creatures), Marissa Meyer (Lunar Chronicles), Meg Cabot (Princess Diaries), Richelle Mead (Vampire Diaries), and so many more!
There are so many options, both for the aspiring writer to network with some of the biggest and brightest in the industry, and for the every day book lover at this one day conference, there is honestly no better option to combine the two loves of your lives: writing, and reading!
Book Con. (2016). Book Con. Retrieved from http://www.thebookcon.com/Home/
My latest article for the pop culture site Fangirlish.com is up! This time, a little walk down memory lane with some of the lads most memorable tweets!
Continuing to shed light on the history, creativity and stories of some of our favorite authors, this third installment features a little fantasy, a little real life and a lot of romance.
You wouldn’t necessarily link these two genres together, but both these authors have a way of drawing you in, whether with subtle young love, or deep passionate lust. And, both started their careers in fan fiction.
Welcome to the third installment of Author Spotlight!
Most wouldn’t even know, but Cassandra Clare doesn’t exist. Not in the literal form, so to speak. It is the pen name of Judith Rumlet, the author of the spectacularly popular Mortal Instruments and Infernal Devices series. Clares personal history is colorful, born in Iran to American parents, her mother was an author, and her grandfather film producer Max Rosenburg. Clare’s initial works were in the fan fiction genre, focusing on Harry Potters Draco Malfoy, but deleted the work shortly before her original City of Bones novel was released.
City of Bones, the first in the Mortal Instruments series, was released in 2007 by Simon and Schuster, inspired by the urban landscape of New York City. The books went on to become NYT bestsellers, inspiring both film and TV adaptations.
Another fanfiction turned traditional publishing success story, this time of the writing duo Christina Hobbs and Lauren Billings. The quintessential online meeting turned perfect combo, the two met in 2009 while writing fan fiction online. In 2010, they joined forces, drawing insatiable readers, and later signed with a literary agent in 2011. Together, the duo have written two series; the Beautiful series, and the Wild Season series. Like many uber popular works, the Beautiful series has been signed by Constantin films to be adapted to a film, and production is set to begin soon.
The books in each series are many, as outlined:
Wikipedia. (2016). Christina Lauren. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Christina_Lauren
Wikipedia. (2016). Cassandra Clare. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cassandra_Clare
My first contribution to Fangirlish is posted already! Im so excited!
Check it out if you want, and always feel free to suggest things for me to write about!
Its a slow time in the fandom since the boys are on break, but Im sure there are still things to be talked about!
Where in the world is One Direction?
Random thoughts from me on books, writing, news and more!