Looky here, another list of 7! I make no apologies.
Lately I’ve been pondering stories (lol like I ever think about anything else), and was thinking about the types of things I wish I found more of within the fictional world. There are a looooot of things that bother me about the fiction we’re fed these days (which I’m sure you’ll get plenty of posts about ‘cause that’s who I am as a person), and there are a loooot of things I want but don’t find too often.
SO THAT’S WHAT WE’RE TALKING ABOUT TODAY. 7 things I wish was in fiction more! I’m sure there are 1939489234 others besides these 7, but these are some things that have, honest to goodness, been needling at my brain for YEARS.
SEVEN FICTIONAL NEEDS
HUMOR + EMOTION
Let it be known that if I am fed a book that manages to make me laugh out loud and tears my heart out into teeny tiny pieces, I WILL LOVE IT FOREVER. That’s kind of the key to good storytelling for me.
And, actually, I think we are getting a lot of books like this these days, especially in the YA genre, and it muchly pleases me! Buuuut it still is sometimes lacking.
Too often we seem to only get one or the other: Super dark and depressing with literally nothing happy going on everrrrr and like can someone please give these characters a hug? OR, it’s just a straight up comedy and even the serious parts are made fun of.
I ADORE The Hunger Games. It’s one of my favoritest series EVER. But, well, they were really depressing books. I can think of…one scene that made me chuckle out of the entire trilogy??? Obviously those books were meant to be dark and serious, AND THAT IS FINE. I just feel like they could have been even better with a smidge more humor sprinkled about.
I think Marvel nails this balance to perfection. Think about Guardians of the Galaxy. Yes, you will laugh until you lose your voice. But you’re lying if you tell me you didn’t shed a tear at “We are Groot!” THIS IS THE KIND OF STORYTELLING I’M HERE FOR.
SUPERHEROES/CHOSEN ONES WHO ARE EXCITED ABOUT IT
You know the drill: Boy/girl turns 16. Suddenly obtains phenomenal powers. Is told they’re going to go on an epic adventure and be the one to save the kingdom/world/entire universe And they…whine about it.
“I just want to be normal.” “Why did this have to happen to me?” “I don’t want these powers.” “This isn’t fair.” “I wish this never happened.”
Um, EXCUSE YOU?
My brother and I joke about this one alllll the time. Think about it, have you ever met a 16-year-old who says they wouldn’t want magical powers and to be a hero??? Come on, we all wish we could obtain some sort of superpower or magical gift.
Yes I know, “with great power comes great responsibility” yadda, yadda. I GET IT. Being the chosen one is hard. Going on adventures isn’t comfortable. BUT, at the same time, I’d looooove to find a story where the protagonist gains these gifts and acts like a teenager normally would and be totally stoked about it. And then maybe even use said powers for dumb, everyday activities. Like oh, I’m telekinetic now? SWEET. Now I never have to get off the couch to reach the remote.
They totally nailed the realism in Spiderman: Homecoming.
MARVEL DOES EVERYTHING RIGHT, OKAY?
GRITTY STORIES WITH STRONG CHRISTIAN MESSAGES
This is such an important one to me! It has been something I’ve wanted my whole life, but don’t often get. And I should probably turn this into a whole blog post, but I’ll sum up my thoughts as briefly as I can here.
It seems like Christians are afraid to get gritty. We produce fluff because anything else might not be “clean”. WELL. Have you read the Bible? That’s some pretty gritty stuff right there. Being a Christian is HARD. It is not a smooth life, and we can’t pretend it is. We can’t turn our backs to the deep issues of the world. In fact, as followers of Jesus, it is our job to face the hard, gritty things in life and make them better. To talk about the deep subjects, not avoid them.
And yet, Christian media still seems to focus on the fluff, the mediocre. Fearful of getting into the nitty gritty. And, frankly, I’m tired of it.
Recently I read the Out of Time series by Nadine Brandes and oooooooh my! NOW THOSE WERE GRITTY BOOKS. But they were also Christian. Dystopian, YA, Christian books. Not something you see everyday. BUT I WISH WE DID.
These books were not afraid to get down and dirty. The characters did not have it easy (like…at all o.o). But, woven all throughout it, there was HOPE. Parvin, the protagonist, learned to trust in God and grew in her walk with Him in each book. I was slammed hard with so many realizations, so many lesson of God’s love and power. I was shown how hard the Christian life is, how hard it is to do the right thing and love people and stand up for what is right. But it is so, so worth it.
These were not fluffy books by any stretch of the imagination. But they were not preachy, in-your-face books either. These were powerful, gritty stories with a beautiful, powerful message AND I WANT MORE. I am so absurdly proud of Nadine Brandes for writing these, and of her publishers for not being afraid to put them out there.
This is the sort of fiction I want to see more of than anything else.
OBSCURE FAIRYTALE RETELLINGS
Sooo I may sound hypocritical since I’m literally editing my own Beauty and the Beast retelling right now. Annnd I have a Cinderella retelling percolating in my brain. Why yes, there are approximately 33 billion Cinderella retellings out there. But, truthfully? I’m not picky when it comes to fairytale retellings. I WANT THEM ALL.
BUT, at the same time, I’d looove to see more obscure fairytales (a.k.a. fairytales Disney didn’t make popular), turned into retellings. Because THERE ARE SO MANY FAIRYTALES IN THE WORLD. The possibilities are endless. Seriously, every single time I read a fairytale I get inspired to retell it.
And it doesn’t even have to be a fairytale. What about myths and legends and folklore in general? There is an infinite well of story inspiration out there. In fact, I have a King Midas retelling cooking in my brain that I’m absurdly excited about.
RETELLINGS, GUYS. GIMME ALL OF ‘EM.
COUPLES WHO STAY HAPPY COUPLES THROUGH THE SEQUEL
This is a huuuuge pet peeve of mine. I think we’re all aware of the trope. The boy and girl meet in book 1, fall in love, and live happily ever after at the end…OR NOT. Because by book 2 they’ve broken up, seem to hate each other, and we get to go through them getting back together and living “happily ever after” allllll over again for the sake of TENSION.
People seem to think that once the couple gets together, it’s not interesting anymore. Well, excuse me, but I quite like reading about or watching couples love each other and have a healthy relationship, thankyouverymuch. It’s inspiring. Where watching the whole breakup, get back together, breakup, get back together fiasco over and over and over again gets tiiiiiring. Like, if they really loved each other would they let these little tiffs separate them half a dozen times??? Ooobviously couples are going to have problems, BUT WORK THROUGH THEM. Having characters walk away from each other every. single. time. something goes wrong in the relationship just gives me a headache.
I think this is also a case of trying to avoid the “sequel blues” because apparently the story is only good if you have romantic tension. After all, it’s boring once the couple is together, and no other types of plot devices work besides romance, right??????
Again, seeing a couple that got together in book 1 and then ACTUALLY LOVE EACH OTHER through book 2 excites me more rather than watching the same romantic tension I had to deal with through book 1 all over again. TV shows are the worst about this. Because when you have 8 season of a show, you’re probably going to be forced to watch the couple breakup and get back together at least 20 times. Uuuuggghh.
The How to Train Your Dragon 2 movie is the best example of how to do this RIGHT. Hiccup and Astrid did not go through the whole breakup thing. Instead, they were a happy couple throughout the whole movie. And it was beautiful and precious watching them fight for each other and care for one another. Did it make the movie boring? NO. It made it inspiring and left room for more interesting plot devices.
Can we please just have happy couples being happy couples and loving each other? It won’t make your plot boring, I PROMISE.
IMMORAL BEHAVIOR HAVING CONSEQUENCES
This is probably what I see the least of in fiction, especially mainstream fiction, and just… *sighs for a millions years*
In pretty much all secular fiction, we have these heroes/heroines we look up to and yet…they live horrible lifestyles. They lie, they cheat, they might steal, they lust and sleep around, they curse, and they do it as if that’s just life. That’s the normal thing to do, and there are no repercussions afterwards. Aren’t these supposed to be the good guys??? The people we aspire to be?
Immoral behavior has consequences. That’s just how it works. The consequences may not come right away, we may never even see the consequences, but they will be there. And I’m really tired of fiction—the very thing that supposed to inspire us—portray immoral behavior as an okay thing to do. Because hey, my favorite hero did this no problem, so it must be acceptable.
BUT, on the flipside, in most Christian fiction the characters neverrrr do anything wrong. They live completely moral lives and are perfect little Mary Sues/Gary Stus. Which is completely unrealistic. We all sin, we all stumble and have our fallings. But, again, immoral behavior has consequences.
What I want to see in both secular and Christian fiction are characters living realistic lives where they stumble, yes, but there are consequences. I don’t want my protagonist to be some lying playboy and that’s accepted. I want him to have consequences to his behavior, and grow from that. I want to be reminded that sinning is wrong, not told time and time again that these things are okay.
Please, let’s not have Mary Sues. (Again, we’re allowed to write gritty fiction.) But let’s also not have heroes/heroines that live awful lives and it’s portrayed as perfectly fine behavior either.
WORLD HOPPERS GET TO STAY IN THE FANTASY WORLD
Another one that has bugged me since I was like…3.
I love world hopping stories, I do. I think we all wish we’d find a magic mirror or an enchanted wardrobe or a wormhole in our bedroom floor that transports us to a fantasy world. (YOU CAN’T DENY IT.) The idea of people from our world getting to have an adventure in a new, magical land excites us because it feels like that could happen to us. It’s so wondrous and appealing.
But the thing I don’t like about portal fantasy is that in pretty much every single one, the characters have to come back to this world in the end.
I’m sorry, guys, I love you and all but if I stumble into Wonderland or Peter Pan flies me off to Neverland I’M NOT COMING BACK.
I mean, that’s probably immaturity on my part. Usually in these stories it’s inspiring to see the characters grow up and learn from their experiences in the magical world and know they have responsibilities and family here that need them. That's supposed to be a happily ever after. But, erm, it actually depresses me??? I get so upset to see the characters leave the fantasy world and all their new friends there and be stuck in this world for the rest of their lives.
I want, for once, a portal fantasy story where the characters actually stay in the fantasy world and live happily ever after there. BECAUSE THIS NEVER HAPPENS AND I NEED IT!
Fun Fact: My first ever fantasy story (I wrote when I was like…10), was portal fantasy in which the main girl got sucked through a mirror into a fantasy world. And, at the end, she got to go back through the mirror, gather up her family, and take them to said fantasy world where they all lived happily ever after. XDDD That is how much and how long I’ve wanted a portal fantasy like this. I finally just wrote one myself. LOLZ.
I grew up on Alice in Wonderland and Peter Pan and then later Narnia and it still to this day upsets me that everyone had to come back to this world!
WELL. This post got a bit rantier than I meant it to. Oops. Ahem. But these are my fictional needs, guys! Things that have bugged me for AAAGES. (It was all bound to explode out of me eventually.) I guess I need to take a page from my 10-year-old self and write stories like this myself, yeah?
As the saying goes, “Write the story you want to read.”
TALK WITH ME!
What are some things you wish there were more (or less) of in fiction? Do you agree with any of mine? Or completely disagree? I looove discussing this, so share away!