Cute or Ugly?

!Colliers

Here is one for my soap-box rantings folder.

Beauty is in the eye of the beholder.  There was never anything more true than that statement.

I was recently reading a book review and the reviewer said that the thing that turned her off to the book was when the main male character said that a girl was unattractive.   However, later the guy was raised in her esteem again because he grew to respect her.

To me, that is utter hogwash; not what happened in the book, but the reviewer’s take on it.  It makes me want to read the book, as I think the author must be a very balanced and level-headed individual.  I actually haven’t read anything written by her, yet.

First of all, it is much different for a guy to respect you, than for him to find you attractive.  He probably won’t want to marry you, just because he happens to respect you.  Those are very different responses in a man.  Basically, a guy can respect a girl, even like her as a person, and still think she is unattractive.

Honesty in a guy is always more attractive than baseless flattery.   What I object to is the idea that a boy can’t think a girl is unattractive, and that if he should voice such an opinion then he is to be looked down upon by the female population.  As a woman, I am offended by this response in those of my own gender.  Boys should be taught that their opinions are valid.  Their opinions should not be looked down upon, it is how they express those opinions that matters.  Boys (or girls) should never insult or say hurtful things to a person that they view as unattractive.  This is one of the oldest teachings on the planet.

We all know that boys fall in love by sight and girls fall in love by hearing, or at least we should know it.  However, I have seen some guys fall in love with some really ugly girls and vice-versa.  Why is that?    I am sure they would be admired by some; however that would not take into consideration that these people do have an opinion, and they are expressing it.   It is not as if they are sacrificing themselves to be with someone they find unattractive.  Obviously, it is because they actually find the person attractive.  So, it is a moot point.

One of the kindest things a man ever said to me was that I was too unattractive for him.  He went on to become one of my best friends.  He is the one person that I can count on for help in numerous situations; but not until after I got over the notion that our relationship might become a romance.  Just because I thought he was very attractive didn’t make it mutual.  Honesty from him, barely two weeks after we met, is what made the relationship into a great friendship.   It was a kindness, because it saved me a lot of heartache later on had I been allowed to harbor secret hopes (its the not having a definitive answer that really kills); or from jealous feelings when I saw him with someone else.  Because I actually believed him when he told me, “Not if you were the last woman on earth.”   Instead of being offended with him, I showed him the respect of recognizing his right to have his own opinions; therefore it opened up the possibility for us to have a wonderful friendship.

Let’s face it, not everyone is attractive.   Even more to the point – what you consider to be attractive, I might view as ugly.  For example, I think Jack Nicholson is one of the ugliest people on earth; however some women find him attractive.   Should I lie and say that he is attractive when I don’t really think so?  What is the purpose of such dishonesty?  It serves no purpose and can cause great heartache further down the road.

To think that girls suffer from lack of self-esteem and that is why guys should always say they are pretty, even when they aren’t, is a sexist idea.  Guys suffer from vanity as well as girls.  Let me tell you about two male friends of mine.  To me they were both attractive the way they were.  One had a jaw that was slightly to one side of his face, but not really noticeable.  The other had a long nose.  Both of them had surgery to “correct” their imperfections.  At least in the case of the friend with the long nose, all the girls seemed to think the surgery was a vast improvement.  To me however, they both looked uglier after the surgery, especially the one who corrected his jaw.  Previously, he had a strong jaw; one that spoke of a strong man.  Afterwards, he had a flabby weak jaw, that made him appear to be weak.   I really wish they had not spent all of that money to look worse than before.  Of course, it was their decisions and all; I am just giving my honest opinion.

Sure unattractive girls can suffer from lack of self-esteem; however they will probably not suffer from the false attentions of horny guys, or at least not as much.  Pretty girls can be hurt by their beauty; so can handsome guys.  They can never be sure if a person likes them for who they are, or for their looks.  I think this can end up being a worse problem, with far more dangerous consequences than just some hurt feelings.

In regards to potential romance, give me honesty over false flattery every day of the week.   Now, when it comes to your opinion of my cat; it is always a good idea to tell me she is cute, even if you don’t think so.  🙂

Oh yeah!  About the above picture – wonder why the guy married her if he hated her.  Maybe she was pretty, but not attractive.

Advertisements

Pet Peeves

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.

Descriptive Narration

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.

Conflict  

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.

Star Ratings

stars

This is my first post in the “Soap-box” category.  Today, I will rant about ratings.

🙂

I really wish there was a way to give 10 stars instead of 5.

As it is, 5 stars makes for bad feelings.  If you give a book a 4 star rating there might be someone would could feel slighted.  And yet, most books written today, if they are good, deserve the 4 star rating.  I myself am perfectly happy with 4 stars.  Why?  Because I know I don’t deserve the 5 stars.  I don’t think my book is absolutely and completely perfect.  Every time I re-read it I see places where I can make it better.  Problem is, that if an author like me were to hold off on publishing until it was 100% perfect, it just never would get published; not to mention that my writing will probably never be considered by the professional literary critics as 100%.  So yeah, I am very happy with a 4 star review, I am even glad for a 3 star review, which might be a more honest evaluation of my work.  That’s honesty and it is very valuable to a writer so that they can grow; if they begin receiving only 5 star ratings for their debut work, then how will they know when they have written something truly awesome?  It does nobody any good to give unusually high marks at the beginning of a person’s career as an author.

Having said that, I really would rather a person stop there and just not post a bad review.  I understand with the amount of one and two star reviews some authors get; and not always because their work is not good, many times bad reviews are posted by bitter and envious trolls to get their kicks.  In those cases, a few 5 star reviews, however unmerited the book might be, are necessary to offset the troll reviews.   A private email is much more to be preferred if someone hated my book.  As a reviewer there are times I would like to be able to send a private communication to the author with my concerns, only to find I cannot find a way to contact the author privately.   I have included my email at the back of my book if anyone wants to vent or actually be helpful by sending me some constructive criticism.

Enough about my book.  The thing is that the 5 stars has become corrupted.  If we could reserve the 5 star rating for truly exceptional books.  Books that could not be any better, ever, no matter how much the writer studied to improve themselves, and no matter how many times they rewrote it, it just could not be improved upon.  If 5 stars were reserved for the best of the best of the best; then it would mean something again.  Sadly, 5 stars has come to mean that you got all of your friends and relatives to rate your book.  Basically, a 5 star review means nothing about your ability to write.  It means you have friends.

What if we left all of the 5 star ratings alone, and added an additional 5 stars for excellence?  A 5 star rating within the 5 stars.  Ok, so you think it deserves 5 stars, but do you think it deserves one 5 stars or two 5 stars?  Which books do you think deserve five 5 stars?  Can we keep that reserved for true classics like Charles Dickens and his ilk?  I think so, if people were honest. What if the 5 stars within the 5 stars didn’t affect a book’s standing on sites like Amazon?  It only served to advise readers.  Yeah, I know I am skeptical, too.  It’s a thought.

So, I just got done giving my own book a 4 star rating.  I think that is what it truly deserves.  It was never my intention to write a masterpiece of literature, and it isn’t.  It is a simple story, told simply for the fun of it.  Is it a good story?  Sure it is.  Does it deserve to be read?  Absolutely, at least by a certain number of people who enjoy that kind of a story, yes it does.  Does it deserve 5 stars?  No, it does not.  Well, except for my mother’s opinion.