I have said many times that I don’t really appreciate the modern teachings on writing fiction, but I guess I haven’t yet gone into detail what it is that I don’t like. And yes, these are only my opinion and as such are biased by my own experiences. You probably won’t agree with me, but that’s ok since we all have our own likes and dislikes.
Since TV shows first have to be written before they are filmed I use a few as examples of what I don’t like. Please keep in mind that my favorite genre is romance, most of what I say is applied to that genre.
This is one of my greatest pet peeves in literature and anyone who has been reading my book reviews has already heard me say this. I really don’t like all of the descriptive narrative. I suppose that some is needed, but I think it is over used; it certainly is overused for my taste. The greatest authors of all time are the greatest offenders in this, even my favorite authors. Over the years I have taught myself to just skip over most of it, but sometimes it is really too much. This is why in my book you don’t find so much of it.
I know that most people think that a book with no conflict is boring. However, I truly think that this is being overdone. I guess I am somewhat ok with some conflict before the couple gets together, but what I can’t stand is how fickle romances are in stories nowadays. The writers think they can add spice by throwing a third wheel into the mix after the original couple has already declared to have feelings for each other. This is especially true in TV shows, and yes I get it, they want to drag out the show for many more seasons. But really? Can’t they think of something better? To me it just seems like a cheap shot to add an ex or a new love interest to come stirring up the relationship. I would not even object (so much) if they had the relationship go through a “tempting” and then have the tempted person stay true to their real love (I mean the one person we are supposed to be rooting for). Instead of showing how weak everyone is at withstanding temptation. How about having the couple stay true and not cheat on their true love? The Good Wife, case in point. And tell me why don’t TV shows with a strong married couple ever last? Obviously, most of the TV viewers out there don’t like shows like Hart-to-Hart or Undercovers. By the way, Undercovers was really good; the only difference I saw between Undercovers and Covert Affairs is that the couple was married. But why do those shows get cancelled? Are people so miserable in their own marriages that they don’t like shows about happily married couples? I don’t know. Maybe it isn’t the viewers at all. Maybe we are being force fed what the producers want us to watch regardless of what viewers actually want to watch. I lean towards this explanation. In fact, it seems you just find out about a really good show and then they cancel it.
This is why I like Historical Romances novels, because the whole love triangle after the couple has gotten together doesn’t usually happen, at least not the books that were actually written several decades ago. So, I guess to wrap up, I object to so much conflict in the relationship nowadays. I would much rather the couple had to learn how to stand together and face and overcome whatever obstacles come their way, than to have the couple itself be in conflict.
Heroes that are not truly Heroic
I want heroes that I can fall in love with and root for, is that too much to ask? This whole flawed hero thing is getting very annoying for me. In fact, if I read in the book description that the main character is “dealing with _____” or that he/she is “real” or flawed, I move on to another book. Where are the heroes worthy of legends? Flawed heroes never would have made it into the legends of old. Of course the people who were made into legends were in fact flawed, but it was not their flaws that made them into legends, it was their larger than life accomplishments that turned them into legends. Its not even that I want perfect heroes, although I wish some were. It is the microscope on their faults that I object to, it is all of the inner conflict and turmoil the supposed heroes are put through nowadays. I just don’t understand the mentality of people who read books wanting to “identify” with the hero. The whole point of the legends of old was to make the heroes better than your average Joe. But I am getting ahead of myself.
I find even in or maybe especially in Christian fiction, that the heroes are anything but heroic. They are forgiven, and yes I understand this is the true Christian message, but I am so tired of weak, wishy-washy heroes with nothing to really admire about them other than the one fact that they repent and get forgiven for whatever bad they have done. Frankly, if I want to read about that I don’t have to resort to fiction, there are enough books out there that are true stories and God’s love is always better in real life than in made-up fiction. Do fiction writers really think they can compete with reality when it comes to God? I don’t think so. Ok, but I digress.
The greatest offenders in this are the TV shows. The first season they get a person to fall in love with the hero and heroine as they build them up to show how good they are and how bad the villain is. Then in the second season they flip-flop the whole thing and have the good guys go bad and the bad guy shown as really being quite good underneath it all. Bah! Rubbish! The worst part is they don’t even have the Christian excuse that the villain saw the error of his evil ways and repented and turned to God. NO! Instead they explain away the evil by having him be misunderstood and really he is good, better even than the guy you thought was good during the first season. Again I say rubbish. Not worth my time, no matter how much I might have liked the characters before I am now so disgusted with the whole mish-mashed lot of them I could care less what happens to them. This has happened to me more times than I care to count with many, many different TV shows.
This is especially true in shows that are geared to the teenage viewers. What are they trying to do? I think they are trying to brainwash the younger generations into believing that good and evil is a relative thing, so much so that it doesn’t matter which you are. There is no incentive to “Be all that you can be” like the old army commercial. When a whole generation loses hope that there even are such things as being honorable and good, that people can actually turn from temptation and overcome it and are even expected to do so, then what can we expect for the future? Same reason reality shows are being shoved down our throats.
“In all these things [trials and tribulations] we are triumphantly victorious through Christ, who loved us.” Romans 8:36. The issue or theme this verse is talking about deserves a whole preaching in order to do it justice, but I throw it in here to show that we as Christians are expected to be victorious, not hopelessly succumbing to every temptation thrown our way, and then be forgiven. We are supposed to be leaders, leading by example. Sadly, this is not happening, not even in fiction. No, it is as if we have missed the greater meaning of the Christian message. Sure it means forgiveness, but that is only half of it. The rest of the message is what Jesus says to the woman caught in adultery; “Go and sin no more.” John 8:11. Again this theme needs more explanation, but that would side-track this post. The death and resurrection of Jesus is the true Gospel message, you can’t have one without the other. The death of Jesus is the forgiveness part; the resurrection of Jesus is the victory part. Every verse in the Bible that talks about the crown and thrones given to Christians in Heaven state it clearly this is only the case for those who were victorious over sin and the world. No victory – no crown or throne. Don’t take my word for it, look it up for yourselves. If we don’t know what our end goal is, how can we expect to accomplish it?
If we have lost faith that it can be true, then it ceases to be true for us. Talk about an end goal; however this is not God’s end goal or plan for us. “For I know the plans I have for you,’ declares the Lord, ‘plans of peace and not evil, plans to give you hope and a future.” Jeremiah 29:11. Let us Christian writers at least stop playing into the enemy’s end goal. Let us start offering hope for being victorious over temptation and not succumbing to it. Again I state that this is a very complex issue and deserves to be expounded upon, but I will not do that here in this post.
Of course, I probably have more pet peeves regarding literature but these are the ones that bother me the most.