Monday, November 11, 2013

Who You Are is Who You Are

Over the years I've noticed a troubling trend among reader reviews. There is this habit of claiming the writer has missed the mark when it comes to portraying a certain character and his or her emotions or reactions to situations simply because the character doesn't conform to the reader's assumptions of how that type of person should behave. I have news for them: THAT IS NOT HOW WRITING WORKS!

If the writer's job was just to present characters that fit into stereotypically assumptions than writing would be exceptionally dull, not to mention it wouldn't offer any insight into how varied we all are as individuals. A book shouldn't be judged on whether or not it meets your preconceived ideas of how a character should behave. It should be judged on whether or not that character's thoughts and actions are authentic to the individual presented to you.

I see this a lot especially when an author chooses to write from the opposite gender. You see comments that claim that the author tried to capture how the other gender would feel, but "obviously" doesn't get it. I can't help but wonder if the author had used a pen name of the same gender, would they get the same criticism? Because the fact of the matter is that not every member of a gender, or any other defining feature, reacts to things in the same way in real life. So as long as the character's actions are consistent with their personality, it can be assumed that at least he or she would react that way.

The real problem in all of this is that it seems more and more, readers don't want to be challenged to question their own formulated ideas. When a book does, they usually react negatively. On the hand, books that play into popular notions of how a character should behave are often celebrated. This isn't to say that sometimes writers get it wrong. Of course they do. But when they pay close attention to character details, and are consistent in creating a unique perspective, they shouldn't be attacked for that. So, look beyond your expectations and get to know the person you are reading about.

No comments:

Post a Comment