Hate Her…But How?

23 Sep

Okay, “hate” is a strong word. No one yet has said they hate my heroine. And, to be completely upfront, most people have really liked her and identified with her immediately.

 

But….don’t you love that word…..this isn’t true of everyone.

 

It took me several passes of the people who didn’t like her (or the ‘other guy’ in the book) to figure out what they thought and what they thought collectively and what I thought. And it was an interesting study. And a lot of valid things to think about.

 

I’m finding this: People don’t want their heroines to be stupid or allow people to treat them badly. Ever. If it happened, it needs to have happened before the book starts and off the page. If one of the guys in the book seems like he might be bad…if he treats her badly…well, he might be the bad guy. Especially if there’s a great guy trying to win her over to, then he might be the good guy.

 

So, backing up to my heroine. She’s hurt, she’s lonely, she’s lost. We see this little by little and (I believe) understanding grows through the beginning as her motivations to let someone she worships treat her badly becomes more clear. To me, her on the page growth not only past it (as in, if it were something that happened BEFORE that she’s getting over) but THROUGH it is what makes Amy such a fascinating character. To see her grow through infatuation into her own self-worth to a young woman willing to risk everything because she wants (and deserves) something better is amazing to me.

 

And the hardest part is, no one agrees with where they don’t like her. This, I love. Honestly. I think it’s wonderful that someone wants to make her bad relationship “okay” but giving some evidence he’s not as bad as he is. Or that someone wants more of her past to make it “okay” that she allows the bad behavior. Or someone wants her to “grow a spine sooner”. But, that’s not Amy. And let’s be honest. It’s not us either.

 

Every woman (I’d love to speak for men here, but my time as a man equals zero) has mad a bad decision about a guy at some point. Some have even made a horrible one. Some have even made the same horrible decision more than once. So, to say that Amy needs to learn faster — or not make the mistake at all — it’s not her story. Her story is about finding yourself in that horrible situation and overcoming it. To me, this is a story I want more people to tell…especially to young girls. You NEVER have to stay weak. You NEVER have to stay with someone who is bad for you. You NEVER have to accept anything less than the best. And, if that takes you a week (it’s a week in the book) to figure out…you’re doing pretty darn good. Strength doesn’t come from never being weak. It comes from finding your weakness and overcoming it.

 

And that’s why I wrote this blog, to think that all out more clearly….why I love Amy and why her naive stupidity in the beginning sets her up for such amazing growth in the end. In the end, she’s a girl I would have loved to have as a friend in high school. I’m betting most people would look at what she overcomes “in real life” and feel the same way.

 

So that makes me wonder: Have we created so many amazingly strong heroines who have that single “flaw” that a normal teen can’t catch a break? Do the girls in our story have to be kick-ass or, on the flip side, so tweaked out that most of us don’t even know a girl like her for the reader to accept her?

 

Is Amy strong is a great question. My answer: Yes. Her family and background story come out and she really does have a pretty even keel for what she’s been through. But her past and insecurities do give the bad boy an in for how to take advantage of her. But her strength and intelligence give her the out, she just needs to find them for herself to become the girl some people want her to be in the beginning.

 

This is where the hard stuff starts for a writer. I can see the points these people are making. Yup, their suggestions would make Amy stronger – which would make people more willing to want to know/be her –because who really wants to be friends with a girl who is so blinded by love that she lets the guy use her.

 

But (see, it’s my turn to ‘but’ now) there comes a time when as a writer you have to say, “That isn’t my character. Yes, she is weaker in the beginning and I hope you ride to the end with her and see her growth and forgive her for where she starts.” Because that, to me, is a real story. It’s a real woman. It’s Amy’s story and I love her for the huge-gully-sized-flaws she has in the beginning.

 

I hope she wins over those people by the end too.

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5 Responses to “Hate Her…But How?”

  1. megasaurus111 September 23, 2009 at 6:40 pm #

    I AGREEEEEEEEEEEES

  2. briaq September 23, 2009 at 7:15 pm #

    Oh! As a YA writer I always love to hear when a teen agrees with me…. I’ll take it!

    I’d love to hear other teens take on this. I wish I had cookies or something for bribes 🙂

  3. melsmag September 23, 2009 at 8:49 pm #

    Do I think she’s weak? I didn’t get that idea at all. Not in the beginning. Not in the middle. Not in the end. Why? Because you know what? She liked a guy and yes, some bad decisions were made on both of their part. It happens. If no one went out with the hot jock who showed interest that’d be a different story but you know what? I’d have done the EXACT thing in her place. Not all of his actions were jerky. He has redeeming qualities. But he had a goal in mind and he did what he thought he needed to in order to GET to it and because of that, yes, he made some bad choices and Amy sticks around. Still doesn’t make her weak. I agree with what you said about her being strong especially because of her background and family because she could have easily gone different routes and made worse decisions than go out with a guy she liked and do what she thought she needed to in order to keep him (I’m iffy a bit about saying ‘keep him’ but for lack of a better description I’m going to keep it). Yes it’s easy for people to judge and say she may be weak compared to them… or whatever but I guess if that were true I didn’t get the memo because not once did I think her actions made her weak. What it makes her… is relatable and I think that these kinds of stories are more worthy or inspiring than those where the heroine is kick-ass and sneering in the face of her opponents. I’m not some leather-toting, high-heel wearing, karate adept chick able to take on the whole world. I relate to Amy. I can see how her decisions would be similar to mine. And this is more powerful than anything.

  4. briaq September 24, 2009 at 10:01 am #

    LOL Mel-

    OK, yeah, specifically…I agree with you about my heroine.

    I am curious about in general tho. I’m really feeling like the heroine is no longer able to be a girl a lot of the times. She has to be funnier, snarkier, faster, stronger, smarter…and less able to become a victim at any time.

    Don’t get me wrong! I love the idea of strong young women, but let’s be honest: Most of them/us aren’t born that way. There comes a moment, a challenge that tests that and grows that strength.

    No one knows how strong they are until they come against their own unmovable wall.

  5. Meghan G September 24, 2009 at 6:38 pm #

    hey Bria-
    I want to read it. As someone who made really a bad decision about a man, Id love to hear how Amy overcame it!!!
    Hope you are well! Blog on your Diva more so I can live vicariously!!!

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