What Would You Like to See More of in Books?

Photo credit: katerha on Flickr
With the new year well on it’s way and my new reading challenge all set up, I think now’s as good a time as ever to think about books, and more importantly, what I’d love to see more of in my future reading.

To clarify, I’m not saying that any of the elements I mention below aren’t being done—all I’m saying is I’d like to see more. And maybe you would too.

So without further ado, here are five elements I’d like to see more of in my future reading:

  • Diverse characters. I’ve seen a big push for this, especially this year, and I love it. I want to see more characters from different cultures, characters who are disabled, characters who are struggling with mental or chronic illnesses, characters who aren’t defined just by their sexualities or just by their ethnicity or just by their health, but by everything put together. I want diversity within the minorities and I want characters who aren’t just one thing. 

  • Diverse settings. Don’t get me wrong, I love medieval-Europe based fantasies and US-based dystopias as much as anyone else, but what about the rest of the world? One thing I love about Leigh Bardugo's The Grisha trilogy is that it’s a steampunk-like fantasy based off of Russian culture (how cool is that?) and I adored Amanda Sun's Ink for it’s portrayal of (a glimpse, anyway) of modern-day Japanese society. I want more of that.  

  • Unreliable narrators. I can’t even explain to you how much I adore unreliable narrators. Whether they’re deliberately lying or not, I can’t get enough of protagonists who take me on a journey, only to reveal that the journey wasn’t quite like I’d been lead to believe. 

  • Awesome heroines. I want to see girls who embrace who they are, whoever they are. I want to see girls who save themselves, girls who admit they need help, girls whose lives don’t revolve around the next relationship, girls in healthy and loving relationships, girls who are smart, girls who are independent, girls who kick ass and girls who may not kick ass, but sure as hell aren’t waiting around for their prince to come and save them, either. I want to see girls who like to look pretty, girls who don’t care, girls who embrace femininity, girls who fit in with the guys and are comfortable in their own skin. I want to see girls of all shapes, sizes, colors, personalities and everything else, girls who are strong sometimes and broken others, girls who are emotional, girls who are not, and most of all, I don’t want to see them crucified for being themselves. 

  • An expansion in New Adult. Don't get me wrong, Contemporary Romance is great, but I think New Adult has the potential to be so much more than just one subgenre. I've seen some self-published writers push the boundaries in New Adult, and I want to see more—I'd love to see Paranormal and Sci-Fi and Fantasy and Thriller New Adult on the shelves. 

What do you think? Would you like to see more of these or other elements? 

Twitter-sized bites: 
Would you like to see more of something in your reading? Share your thoughts on @Ava_Jae's blog. (Click to tweet)  
What would you like to see more of in books? Join the discussion at @Ava_Jae's blog. (Click to tweet


RoweMatthew said...

Congratulations on another year. Yours is the only writing blog I regularly read. It's short and detailed, easy to get into, so I really enjoy it. Plus being a top commenter actually motivates me to read too.

Ava Jae said...

Thank you so so much! You've been a wonderful part of the Writability community, and I'm very happy to hear you're still getting something out of my blog. :) Thank you so much for your support!

Robin Red said...

I don't think I've read enough books to know what isn't written enough about, but a few things come to mind: in any fantasy book where the protagonist gains some sort of power, I wish they'd embrace it. Nearly every story I've read (or watched) about this, the character "deeply despairs for the unnatural" abilities he/she possesses, and I don't think that's realistic. If I woke up tomorrow and found out that Santa Clause finally granted my wish for telekinetic abilities, I'd be psyched. Plus, the characters who do (rarely) embrace it never put it to practice.

Characters walking into traps gets on my nerves. I'd love to see characters get into a crazy situation not because they "walked into the dark basement of the haunted house". A good trap that even the reader won't expect shows good writing, and possibly a good antagonist.

Skilled protagonists: I love these. When the protagonist in question doesn't have a problem perfecting a skill, then the protagonist will be challenged in other areas, probably his/her character or integrity, values, etc. Scene after scene won't need to be wasted showing this character getting better at (insert skill), but instead focus on the character growing in some area of his/her life. I read Daughter of Smoke & Bone last year, and I loved that Karou was already pretty dope as a fighter and had tricks up her sleeve. That made action scenes less about "Will she survive?" and more about "What is she fighting for?"

Character amnesia. Okay, I don't mean this in the actual medical way, but when a character conveniently forget things to keep the reader in suspense just kills me. I was reading a (unnamed) book, and one of the characters was warned about something, stumbles upon that very something, and only "recalls being told to avoid something" as if the reader forgot, too. I didn't forget. I was looking for it. Why wasn't the character looking for it? If you see a "yield" sign, look for traffic, right?

Rivals. I don't see this a lot in the books I read, though I see it everywhere in manga. I like when an underdog hero has a rival who's just superior in nearly every way. I think it brings out interesting qualities in the protagonist, plus there's the contrast in character—brownie points if the superior rival is super-nice and doesn't treat the protagonist like a box of roaches.

This rant has been brought to you by Robin Red. Happy New Years!

Robin Red said...

Whoa, I made it onto a list :)

Ava Jae said...

You did! And I was going to link to your Twitter, but I couldn't find it! If you let me know, I'll add it as soon as I have computer access. :)
Thanks so much for being such an active part of the Writability community!

Ava Jae said...

No worries about not being sure if there are books with what you'd like to see--as I said in the post, I'm not necessarily saying the elements above aren't being done enough, just that I'd like to read more with the elements included. :)
I think you've got some great points. I've read a couple fantasy books where they didn't hate their abilities, like SHADOW AND BONE where the MC was surprised and a little scared about her abilities, but didn't hate them, and GRACELING where the MC's gift made her a skilled fighter, which she didn't necessarily love, but she made very good use of it. That being said, I understand what you mean about characters despairing over their abilities. In most cases (I can think of some abilities that would be more of a detriment than an advantage), I would be right with you in bent excited about gaining some kind of paranormal or supernatural ability. :)
I also agree that skilled protagonists are excellent. Yet another reason I enjoyed GRACELING.
Character amnesia the way you described it tends to be a plot device I don't really like, either. I kinda wrote about that in my stupid characters vs. stupid decisions post, but no one likes a stupid character.
Rivals! Now that's an interesting one. I hadn't thought of that (though I don't watch anime or read manga), but I think I understand what you mean...like Gary from Pokémon...I think. At any rate, you're right that they're not too common outside of manga and anime. Very interesting.
Thanks for sharing your thoughts!

Shay De Flory said...

Err. I second your fifth point. And third it. And forth it.

I feel like NA is being paraded as many things but only producing one kind. When submitting I either say my writing is edgy YA or straight up Adult. New Adult fit perfectly with what I was writing but genre wise, not so.

I think I'd like to see some good examples of different genres in NA and of course, some male protags as MC's.

Kristen Walker said...

I want more characters with psychological problems. Physical disabilities are important to represent as well, but I don't see enough with mental disabilities. Most of them aren't very realistic, though. I want accurate representation because not many people are aware of what these problems are really like to live with. And I want them to live their lives and have other kinds of stories that aren't just about them being "crazy".

The other things on your list are pretty awesome, too. I would read more awesome women and diverse characters and settings.

Robin Red said...

Here it is: @writer_robin Thank you, Ava :D

Robin Red said...

Gary from Pokémon is a perfect example, though he's actually really mean (how did Professor Oak raise a grandson like him??) I'll have to break the mold in my own stories, I suppose.

Ava Jae said...

Agreed about NA, as you know. Male protags! That's a great one, too. I've read a couple, but it's something I'd definitely like to see more of. Great addition. :)

Ava Jae said...

I could not agree more about portrayal of psychological struggles. I've heard of a couple contemporary stories that tackle some mental health issues, but I'd like to see more where the mental struggle isn't the point, it's a hurdle the character has to overcome or learn to manage, and still save the world while doing so. :)

Ava Jae said...

Gary was about the only example I knew, heh. Good luck!

Ava Jae said...

Fixed! And you're very welcome! ^_^

Medvekoma said...

Just one sentence: "Less third person narration." It makes stories feel generic, especially if the narration is ominescent. And the struggle to avoid "he/she-ing" (He suddenly woke up. He opened his eyes and looked around. He couldn't see a single soul.) leaves the text blocky and crude for most writers.

Ava Jae said...

I don't know if you read YA and NA, but there's a lot of first person narration in those categories, so if you're not a fan of third person narration, you may want to check those out. :)

Medvekoma said...

Sadly, I have prejudices when it comes to NA/YA novels, I mostly read adult classics, and only the "hyped" youngster books, and most of those are written in TPN. Also, my native language prefers third person over first (gramatical and stylistic reasons).

Ava Jae said...

Hmmm. Well, if all you read are adult classic novels, then you're not going to see much change as far as third person narrative goes (as that was the predominate writing style for many many many years).

If you like first person, however, I'd recommend you try to give YA or NA novels a chance. You never know—you might just find that you like something. :)

Post a Comment

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...