On Sunday, I was talking to one of my cousins. I enjoy talking to him about books because he’s the age group that most of my writing is geared toward. It’s also interesting because he’s a boy, and so he has a different point of view. He’s the one who recommended the Ascendance trilogy (I read the whole trilogy in a week).
I was trying to think of a book that he would enjoy, and I tried to recommend a few books that I’ve read recently, and he asked a question I didn’t expect.
Is the main character a boy or a girl?
Huh? I know that I’ve read about boys not wanting to read books about girls, but I’d never actually experienced that before. I told him that the main characters were girls, and he immediately dismissed the books. Just because the main characters were girls.
His reasoning? Girls in young adult books are ‘too whiny’.
I’ve been thinking about what that means. If it’s a young adult book, means the character is almost definitely a teenager. How do you make a teenage girl realistic but not whiny? Growing up, I feel like I was fairly whiny, and I felt the same way about my sisters. Now that I’m not a teenager, it feels like they get whiner and whinier.
Young adult books are about a character discovering who they are. It’s less about the trials, and the overcoming, and more about determining how they fit in their world. Growing up like that – it’s going to be rough, there’s going to be learning and overcoming. And whining. If there’s a character who never wonders what their purpose is, who never complains or has doubt, I don’t know that they would draw a reader in. We want to read about someone with flaws. Someone who isn’t perfect, who doesn’t have complete control of their lives.
But how do we create a character with flaws and doubts without turning off the male population?
Any thoughts? Ideas?