Some things I would like to see in Fiction

A good while ago now, I wrote a post on ‘trends I would like to see more and less of in the book world’ and this covered a whole bunch of different elements and genres. Today, I want to talk about things I would like to see more specifically, in Fiction. You know what I mean, the huge, mainstream, popular books which are on the shelves in all Tesco’s around the country and in the windows of all the Waterstones chains from the biggest and the best of publishers.

Emotional books which aren’t romantic: The thing about fiction is that it can represent real life situations and you can relate to certain elements and plotlines in these sorts of books. I love that and, inevitably, not all parts of life are happy and rosy. We obviously all go through harrowing, difficult and sad times in our lives and the beautiful thing about fiction is that that can be represented fairly accurately but… the majority of emotional, ‘pull at the heart strings’ type books that I’ve come across mostly all revolve around romance. And that’s just not realistic. Because there are other upsetting things which don’t revolve around a romantic relationship. I am not a romantic person and I don’t read romance novels any more. I used to but our book tastes change and that’s okay and I would love to see this genre of “emotional, un-romantic fiction”. Of course, I’m not eliminating all romantic relationships from the books, I would just like to see more of a varied of focuses, rather than on that relationship in order to make us bawl our eyes out.

Not romanticising illness: Are we done with this one now, please? Not only is this done to death (pardon the pun) but it’s incredibly damaging and insensitive and quite frankly, unrealistic. Which is rich because the very genre it’s under is supposed to represent the ‘realism’ of life more so than ‘Fantasy‘ or ‘Sci-Fi’ or even the vast majority of ‘Thrillers‘. It’s no secret that I adored the Fault in Our Stars when I read it. I thought it was the greatest piece of literature I’d ever stumbled across and whilst I’m still a huge fan of John Green’s work, although noticeably, his other books, I’ve learnt over the years of blogging and being more involved and interested in book blogging and the different opinions of people that in fact, the romanticisation of the illnesses in The Fault in Our Stars is quite… problematic. And I hate that word.

Less long winded titles: I did mention this in the post that I did last year but alas, the long-winded title craze, fad, trend, whatever you want to call it unfortunately hasn’t fizzled out. I don’t know whether it’s just me it winds up but I just don’t see it necessary for a 9 word title of a book. Obviously, it has no reflection on the actual book, which is great but seriously man… enough! I find this is more common in chick-lit than any other genre and I’m not sure why that is but a overly long title, made up of a concoction of words which often include words such as, ‘little’, ‘bookshop’, ‘teashop’, ‘café’ or ‘cake’ is so over-done and I just feel a bit unnecessary.

Less missing people: More noticeably in Mystery and Thriller, we see the theme of missing people over and over and over again. It’s an interesting topic and one that can most certainly be explored and maybe ‘m just looking for the wrong types of stories here but I’ve finding missing people quite tedious at the moment. The thing that stands out in a mystery or thriller for me – including those that include missing people elements – is shock factor. And I feel that maybe I’ve read so many missing people type stories, which have had so many outcomes and reasons for why these people have been missing that just nothing is shocking me any more. I would just love to see Mysteries and Thrillers go a different, new and more shocking direction than someone going missing.

More LGBT+ in standard fiction books: The only books I have read where there have been gay characters or bisexual characters are The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky (and even so, it was a tiny, minute part of the story), One Day by David Levithan and Will Grayson Will Grayson by John Green and David Levithan. All if you notice, all of these are Young Adult. In Fiction novels, the types of books you see everywhere, are published all the time by the biggest and best publishes, LGBT+ characters are practically non-existent and if they are, they’re either a minor character or it’s made into a “thing”. Why? I would love to just pick up a standard, Fiction novel from the shelf in Tesco and find more varied sexualities within the characters without it being a huge deal or without the “gay best friend” stereotype. I don’t know what it will take for this to happen.

Are there any you would add to this list? Do you agree with any of the points mentioned? Let’s talk!

43 thoughts on “Some things I would like to see in Fiction

  1. Interesting list (and I like that there’s also a lot of “see less of” here!) and I have to say I agree with most, especially the LGBTQ point which is what I try to address in my fiction. In a similar vein, the one I’d like to see more of is stories about women in business and not the it-all-goes-wrong type or the making-a-big-deal-about-it type, but the it’s-just-part-of-life type!

    • Ooh yes fantastic point about the Women in business thing! There are SO many “women in okay job then something goes wrong and she loses her job”, or “women works in little cafe which isn’t doing so well so she thinks of ways of making it better” type books.

      • I know – why does it always have to be what the plot hangs off rather than part of the character? And why does it almost always have to be the title of the book?

  2. Totally agree and this is why I tend to avoid mainstream fiction most of the time! There’s so many great books out there that do fulfill your wishes, but they are usually small press publications. Mainstream publishers tend to play it safe far too much of the time!

  3. I have several gay characters in my novels, I didn’t set out to write them with that in mind, they fell in love with each other and I agree, there is a lack of this in novels.

    • That’s great and it sounds like it was a very fluid thing to happen. Like it wasn’t planned and you didn’t set out for them to be the “stereotypical gay couple”, you know? Go you (:

  4. I really loved how you brought this out and I have to say that your words actually encouraged me 😀 I’m currently writing a fantasy series and was glad to gather from your post that the emotional (real part of it) isn’t centralised on romance and missing people part of my books don’t hold all the usual reasons we’ve read about 🙂

  5. God damn I agree with these so hard. It shouldn’t be a pleasant surprise when I come across an LGBT character in a book – it should be as commonplace as girls with blond hair!

    I’m also gonna write a book called THE Little Bookshop Teashop Café- I just don’t have a plot yet! 😉

    • Yes, exactly! I just don’t think it needs to even be mentioned. If a character is gay or a lesbian then we should find out whenever their partner is mentioned. And if it’s the same sex, then it’s the same sex. If the reader doesn’t like it, they can stop reading.

      And please don’t write that hahaha we have enough bookshops and teashops to last 4 lifetimes 🙄

  6. Interesting post Jenny. Although I enjoy most genres the ‘Little Cupcake Girl with the Teashop by the Sea’ puts me off, as does any kind of ‘Bandwagon’ title. I’ve never included LGBT characters because I didn’t know any, or so I thought until I read your article and immediately remembered 8 or 9 straight off. Thought provoking. I have got a ‘missing’ person in my latest mystery novel, but only in that he’s not around, rather than the revelation at the finale. On second thoughts…. 😉

    • Hahah lots of people have mentioned that it’s always a “little” teashop or bookshop, never a big one, funny that?! I do enjoy a missing person book, I’ve read a fair few and it just depends really some are fantastic and some are just, the same as 50 others you know?

    • Yes mental health in any book can definitely be hit or miss and it NEEDS to be handled well, sensitively and well researched. I’m sick of the “introverted, socially anxious” character too when the socially anxious part is used as a “quirk”. There’s NOTHIG quirky about being socially anxious!

    • Yes yes yes! Also… the whole, “this character is a shy introvert and then by the end of the book they have been changed” like why? Being an introvert and being quiet ISN’T A BAD THING THAT NEEDS TO BE CHANGED!

  7. Some very interesting points as always.

    Totally with you on the uber long titles as well. It doesn’t really help with marketing a lot I can imagine. It was hard enough trying to remember what order half the words were in, never mind which ones were actually there. I can deal with certain titles that can be shortened such as “The Curious Incident” or any of the Harry Potter Novels, but when you get hit with “The 100-Year-Old Man Who Climbed Out the Window and Disappeared” (which I had to double check), it gets silly!

  8. Totally agree, the romanticism of illness, …..if you live with a chronically ill person, then you sure as hell DO NOT call it romantic.
    I am also getting bored with the fact that alot of the hero’s / heroine’s are all precousious (spelt that wrong i know) teenagers.

    • Hahaha I know what you mean! The romanticising of MENTAL illness is the one that gets me riled up. As someone who’s lived with anxiety for years, I can tell you that it is NOT a cute little quirk or something for people to romanticise. But any illness, it’s just a massive no-no. Making any illness seem rosy is just 🙄🙄

  9. Characters who just happen to be disabled, but are in the story there because they’re probation officers, shop assistants, presidents, whatever. And not just in wheelchairs… older people who are interesting, not just old. People who use food banks! Young people with no hope of moving out of the parental home… better stop before this becomes a political broadcast!

  10. Love the blog post, I agree with all of it! As a fledgling writer, it’s also helpful with my own prospective novel-writing, so I know which over-used tropes to avoid (or under-used ones to consider including, for that matter).
    Personally, I would like to see the inclusion of sports and religion beyond a minor role within fiction. Regardless of one’s opinion and/or involvement in either one, sports and religion are both real things that are legitimately meaningful to people, society and culture, and although there are extremes to both that make the news all too often, there’s something to be said about someone who cares how Lewis Hamilton (motor racing) or the Doosan Bears (baseball) did last year, or who maybe grew up as a Protestant Christian but is having a crisis of faith and is considering a switch over to Islam. Either way, fiction is a reflection of our lives, including the many things that permeate society and culture.
    …or maybe I just need to get to work writing! HA!

    • Those are really good points! You know I’m a HUGE Formula 1 fan so sports (esp Formula 1) would be a fantastic thing to read about. I’ve heard of a book that came out last year, by a female author from a well-known publisher which was based around the formula 1 “lifestyle” and the main character works in some area of F1 and falls in love with one of the drivers or something like that. It sounds quite a typical Women’s Fiction / Romance but I just like that the setting is a bit different.

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