Thursday, 8 January 2015

Insecure Writer's Support Group: The Age of Insecurities

Insecure Writer's Support Group is a blog hop hosted by Alex J. Cavanaugh where totally insecure writers can get together and share the things that are making us go argh!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
        Even though I keep telling myself that I won't trawl through Goodreads and read one star reviews of young adult books that I love and some that I loathe, I still find myself doing it a lot. I have to feed my insecurities so I can continue to be part of this group right??
        Aside from the usual contentious tropes like insta-love and love triangles that always causes heated debate, one of the most common complaints I've read is that the reader couldn't connect with the hero/heroine. Often the heroines in question are the self-confident ones who know they are pretty and don't have complete social anxiety issues. From my own research (otherwise known as Goodreads/Amazon stalking) it feels like most readers in the young adult bracket don't really care for the self assured  heroine. They prefer the mousy, shy girls with a myriad of insecurities who is gorgeous but can't know that she's gorgeous except by way of every boy in the book throwing himself at her. Even if both types of heroine were to act the same way in a story the less confident girl seems to garner more sympathy.
        This speaks to a whole other topic of debate about portrayal of women in books and film that I don't have time to touch on but it worries me because my heroines don't fit into the demure package.  Partly because the softly spoken and written girl wouldn't logically survive in the dystopian societies I make up in my head. They wouldn't even survive in some of my urban fantasies unless they did so on the pity of others. Mostly though, I just don't like writing those kinds of girls. It's not that I don't have insecurities of my own (clearly!), it's just that I find them so bland and author inserty. I can only hope that there are lots of other readers out there who feel the same way.
Intro to me: This month IWSG have asked us to introduce ourselves so here goes. My name is Lan and I'm a writer from all the way down in Melbourne, Australia. I mostly try and stick to the YA dystopian and urban fantasy genre and hope to publish something this year!


  1. The fairytale Cinderella has a lot to answer for. :-) Kids want to read about themselves. They have insecurities. And they want to fantasise that one day they, too, will attract the attention of the gorgeous boy. That's life!

    Looking forward to seeing something you have written in print. Did you ever get an editor?

    1. I did end up finding an editor that was a good fit for me. I used the services available page on the IWSG website actually. Now I just have to work on looking at the edits and finishing off my draft so I can get a cover done.

  2. I think with dystopia, the female lead can be strong. As you said, how would she survive?

  3. Well, I suppose when you're writing to a bunch of insecure teenage girls, you'll garner more sympathy from them if your heroine is also an insecure teenage girl.

    It's adult books that do best with confident heroines because women gain a bit more confidence in themselves as they get older and thicker-skinned. It's all the being treated like crap by men and realizing you won't be tolerating it anymore that does that, which comes with just living long enough. Teenage girls seem more inclined to tolerate and please everyone for fear of being rejected.

  4. Hi Lan! Nice to meet you through the IWSG—I'm your newest follower! :)

    I happen to like strong YA characters, in fact my MC for my YA near future thriller is a bit of a badass. I agree with you—if you're writing dystopian, your female lead character needs to be strong. And maybe some teen readers can't relate to that, but I'm willing to bet they may think "hey, I want to be like that"—strong, confident, and in control. Take Katniss from Hunger Games for example.

  5. I don't know about others, but I love reading from the POV of confident heroines--in YA or any other genre. Actually, it's one of the things I like best about Urban Fantasy. However, I will say it really rounds out a character when they have some insecurities. Usually makes them more relatable imo. Just my two cents, hope you're doing well Lan and that 2015 is a good year for you!
    Ninja Girl

  6. There's a book out there for everyone and I'm sure there's someone out there whose waiting to read yours. Diversity in narrative is definitely needed and that includes the personality (strengths and weaknesses) he/she brings to the table or novel in this case.

  7. Looking through my cyber bookshelves I see YA novels by the likes of Garth Nix, Terry Pratchett, Rebecca Lim, Ellie Marney, Sophie Masson, Kate Forsyth, Michelle Cooper, Lily Wilkinson... Well, lots! - with strong heroines. Strong doesn't have to be badass. Confident is enough. But that doesn't have to be so confident you know what to do at every turn and never have doubt. That would be boring. The idea is that you start with a problem and eventually solve it.

  8. I can understand why insecurities can be more relatable than confidence, but I think the world needs your heroines, to show that girls/women can be confident in some ways and flawed in others. To me, that's much more relatable.

  9. I think go with what you like. If it doesn't feel right to you then chances are it isn't right for your story either so, if you feel your story calls for a strong female lead then go for it :)

  10. I like fairly robust characters that have guts, to be honest what gender they are is not massively important to me. Of course they should have their insecurities and weaknesses as well.

  11. Oh I think you know I can't stand the mousy girls. Yeah i have zero confidence. I think we all struggle with that but I don't need all my heroines to act like freaking Bella for me to relate. I hate them, quite frankly and I think I'll like your characters much better.

  12. Ha! I complain about not being able to connect to characters ALL the time in my reviews. I do like strong heroines, though. I think it's mostly when they're portrayed as "strong" but it translates into them having no normal human emotions that I get turned off by them.


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