I’m currently writing a young adult fiction novel which is a pretty good gamble. It’s always hard to get a novel of that kind published because there are so many to compete with. I’m trying to be smart about it though. Paying attention to how best sellers are written, thinking about what publishers are going to look for, focusing on trying to be as original as possible without just being weird, etc. One thing I’ve noticed in the other books I’ve been reading is that more times than not, if there’s a love interest the main character is usually surprised when the romance is interested in them. They never seem to see it coming regardless of the signs. Granted, some are written so that only the readers suspect based on the norm of stories, but still. It’s odd.
In a society where people are obsessed with “true love” and relationships, you would think that story characters wouldn’t be so clueless. Yet, they are. It pretty much never fails. Eventually in a book you’ll hit that point where the main character thinks, “What?! They like me?! When did that happen?” And as the reader we’re like, “Ummm… Chapter 3 hun… Welcome.” So why is it that characters don’t figure that out sooner? Well, sadly we also live in a society where it’s considered self-centered to think, “Hey! I’m pretty sure they like me!” So theoretically a character wouldn’t be likable if they thought that way. But here’s the thing; if the character was written well wouldn’t that just make them relatable? Shouldn’t that work? Makes sense to me.
Don’t get me wrong, modesty can be great and useful in many situations, but I don’t understand modesty when it’s a lie or blatantly undervalues a person. If you can easily and obviously tell that someone is interested, then why is that something to be ashamed of. Furthermore, even if you’re not completely sure, if we all walked around like fictional characters we wouldn’t ever find out if someone likes us. There would be a lot less in the way of relationships. So why does it seem so taboo in stories? It’s just one more thing to be ashamed and hush hush about. This taboo is only the tip of the iceberg when it comes to things that we’re ashamed of.
Fortunately things seem to be changing and there are a lot of people fighting the shame and uptight modesty that has kept many people at a disadvantage. These characters reflect the mind of society and society needs to make some changes. I’m tired of average characters who are oblivious to their surroundings and are always pleasantly surprised when the obvious beats them over the head. I personally like to think that the world isn’t 100% full of unaware flakes, but maybe that’s just me. Either way, I look forward to the day when characters suspect a romantic interest and act accordingly, letting it influence their lives like it does ours. It just seems logical.